Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. discusses Russia’s invasion: ‘We have to win this war’

Nearly two weeks into Russia's onslaught against Ukraine, President Zelensky continues to press the West for additional logistical and military aid. Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, joins Judy Woodruff to discuss the latest developments in Ukraine and the fight against Russia's invasion.

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  • Judy Woodruff:

    And for more on the latest developments in Ukraine, and how Ukrainians are fighting back against Russia's invasion, we turn to Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the United States.

    I spoke to her a short time ago.

    Ambassador Markarova, thank you very much for joining us.

    At this point, who is winning this war?

    Oksana Markarova, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States: Thank you very much for having me.

    Well, Ukrainians are winning this war, and the moral win is on our side from day one, because we never did anything to provoke this. We never did anything to inflict this upon us, and we never attacked anyone.

    It's Russia that attacked us, and we're defending our homes. And, if you remember, a lot of people said that we will not be able to defend ourselves against this big, mighty Russia, that a country like ours does not stand a chance. It's truly a David-against-Goliath fight.

    But because we are fighting for our homes, because we are fighting for our freedom, today is day 14 of the brutal war that Russia is waging, and we are defending our home.

    So, again, as much as it gives us pain to see how many Ukrainians are wounded, how many homes are ruined, how many hospitals, maternity hospitals today are shelled at, we are not ready to surrender, and we will not.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Let me to ask you about the fighter jets.

    As you know, this was under discussion with NATO. Ukrainian officials had been saying they expected fighter jets. But then, after Poland announced they would be sending them to Germany to be then delivered to Ukraine, the — NATO, the United States said this is not tenable.

    Is this now a deal that's dead?

  • Oksana Markarova:

    I'd rather not discuss specific discussions, to be honest here.

    We have to understand Ukraine is at war, and we need all the support we can get, and we focus on these discussions with our partners, strategic partners here especially, but we would rather discuss it and get everything, rather than discuss different processes in the press.

    So that's why you saw that we're trying not to comment on it. But I have to say that we are working very closely, both with our colleagues in Pentagon, but also with Congress and administration. And, as you know, there is this new package coming up — coming out in the Congress of the support.

    We are dedicated to fight for our homes. We are very much — armed forces ready to fight. And we need a steady supply of all kinds of equipment and weapons that we can get from our partners, especially with regard to the anti-air, because what we see — and we see it all on videos and photos — how they are bombing from the skies.

    Again, this Mariupol maternity hospital today is unbelievable war crime, unbelievable. You don't shoot at pregnant women. So, we are talking about all of it. And I want to say that we are getting more supplies, and we will be getting more supplies.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Can Ukraine win this war, though, without fighter jets? We're also seeing Bulgaria, other countries saying they can't provide fighter jets now.

  • Oksana Markarova:

    Look, we have to win this war, because this is our home.

    But we also, as civilized world, have to win this war, because we all together have to show that it's not all right for an autocratic terrorist state to attack a neighboring country and get away with it. So, all the support that all civilized countries can provide to us, I think this is time to do it, because this is a global fight. This is a fight for democracy.

    This is a fight for our planet to be a peaceful place, not a place of war.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    You say it's a global fight.

    And yet NATO is saying, we will give you some weapons, we will give you surface-to-air, we will give you anti-tank weapons and other humanitarian needs, but we can't give you some of the most lethal and powerful weapons that — like fighter jets.

    Is that — are you — is Ukraine getting the support that it needs?

  • Oksana Markarova:

    We are getting a lot of support.

    But, of course, we are talking to all our friends and partners that we need more, because, again, pay attention to the size of Ukraine and to the size of Russia. And this is something where we all have to focus on right now, because Putin will not stop in Ukraine.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    The diplomatic track, we know the Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers are supposed to be meeting tomorrow.

    Is there a diplomatic path at all at this point?

  • Oksana Markarova:

    As we said, we will never surrender. We will not give up.

    But, of course, we would like to save all — you know, as many Ukrainian people as possible. So, we are open for discussions. And we showed it from the day one. So, our delegation is always ready to meet and discuss.

    And we hope that there's an honest desire to discuss on the other — to discuss on the other part.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    And would that include Ukraine saying it has given up on the idea of joining NATO? I'm asking you because President Zelenskyy said a few days ago — and I'm quoting — he said he had cooled down on the question of NATO a long time ago, after he said that, we understood that NATO is not prepared to accept Ukraine.

  • Oksana Markarova:

    Well, I think this is something that we should ask NATO.

    Ukraine, not only the majority of Ukrainians supported to joining NATO, more than 60 percent. Not only it's in our Constitution. In 2018, Ukrainian Parliament voted that we would like to be a part of European Union and NATO. We are the EOP status partner with NATO, and our army has been transformed according to the NATO standards, and plus everything else, I mean, the democratic standards, the election, free and fair elections, everything else in the country.

    So our desire to join NATO was always there and is still there. But it's an alliance of 30 members, and it's up to 30 members to take a decision.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Last question, Madam Ambassador.

    I see those photographs behind you of war scenes in your country. How long can Ukraine hold out?

  • Oksana Markarova:

    A lot of people said we would not hold for a day or two. We are in our homes.

    And even though people are shot, there are war crimes, there is — there are war criminals on our territory with tanks, armored vehicles, guns, and airplanes and rockets are shooting at us from all the places, we are defending our homes.

    So, even though many people fled to save their children, but the majority of adults even would put their kids into safety and come back to defend our homes. And after everything we have lived through these 14 days, I think the question to ask would be — is not how long Ukraine can hold.

    The question would be what the world is ready and is prepared and should do in order for us to defend our home, but also in order for the civilized world to show that the international rule of law still exists, that international order still exists, and a peaceful country can defend itself from a large autocratic state that decided to attack it for no reason.

  • Judy Woodruff:

    Ukraine's Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova, thank you very much.

  • Oksana Markarova:

    Thank you. Thank you for all the support.

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