The following is a transcript of an interview with Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova that aired on “Face the Nation” on June 4, 2023.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador Oksana Markarova joins us for an update. Good morning to you. It’s good to have you back with us.
UKRAINIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.S. OKSANA MARKAROVA: Good morning. Always good to be back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about what’s happening now because Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said, U.S. trained Ukrainian brigades have arrived in Ukraine and they’ve been rehearsing, training and maintaining for weeks. He mentioned the weather has improved. He’s describing the conditions for that counter offensive to potentially begin very soon. What are you expecting in the coming days and weeks?
AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, you know, for us, counter offensive never stopped to be honest. Since February 24 that’s all we were focusing on, how to liberate our land. But of course, with additional trade brigades, with additional equipment, with every cent that we’re working on now, we are hoping that our commanders, as soon as they will see the openings, will start this- whether it’s going to be one or several counter offensives, but the faster we can liberate all their territory and all our people, of course, the better. So I will note, of course, as you heard our President and our commanders, we will not announce anything, we will not- we will see it when the results are there. But we are expecting to liberate more soon.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And your president said ‘we are ready.’ Russia, though, throughout the course of the week has been launching missile attacks, including on the capital of Kyiv. They appear to be testing your air defenses. And I know President Zelenskyy has said Ukraine needs more Patriot missiles. Are you getting help getting that kind of air defense right now? Is the U.S. doing enough?
AMB. MARKAROVA: We’re very grateful for everything we are receiving. So, it’s Patriots, it’s NASAMS, it’s all other capabilities, but we clearly need more. So what Russians have been doing, again for 466 days now, but also this week, you know, we have seen how daily, several times a day, there were deadly attacks by rockets, but also Shahed drones all- all the time. So it’s the terror. It’s the destruction that it brings. But also it’s the, you know, expanding our capabilities that we have now we definitely need more
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden Administration released another 300 million in military aid. Some of that included drones. Are these surveillance drones, are these attack drones that the U.S. is giving?
AMB. MARKAROVA: It’s a range of the drones so- and we need all of them. We need the surveillance, we need the attack drones, we need the kamikaze drones. So there will be different capabilities in the packages.
MARGARET BRENNAN: There is an upcoming NATO meeting in July that the president- President Biden is expected to attend and Ukraine’s, entry possible entry, into the military alliances is a topic there. Do you know what the U.S. is going to promise?
AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we all look forward to the summit. Ukraine has NATO aspirations, transatlantic aspirations–
MARGARET BRENNAN: For some time now.
AMB. MARKAROVA: – in our hearts, in our Constitution, and the majority of people support it. Since 2008, when the first declaration was made that we will be members of NATO, we believe it’s time to start discussing some specific steps in that regard. Now, again, as President Zelenskyy said, we are realists. We understand the limitations that the ongoing war puts to it, but I think at this moment, after this horrible violation of international law, after Russia attacked us completely not provoked when we were not part of NATO, after historic decisions on Finland and Sweden, it’s time for everyone to realize that it’s about good versus evil. And we need to be members of NATO as much as NATO needs Ukraine also in order because we have a lot to add to NATO. So yes, we look forward to this forum to discuss this.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Your president said he knows this wouldn’t happen until after the war is concluded, in other words, that the U.S. wouldn’t be drawn in directly to this conflict now, as a NATO member, but promise a future entry. What are the security guarantees that you are looking for?
AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, you know, the President Zelenskyy put out this peace formula, which clearly outlines how the war should end and how to build, restore the security. So there is a lot of elements: it’s military security, justice, rebuilding- rebuilding Ukraine, ensuring that we can all together deter Russia from making it again. And it’s all been discussed with- with partners individually, but also was the group. It was one of the items discussed at the G7 summit, at others. So it’s a work in progress, but I think, you know, the real security guarantee and not for Ukraine, but for transatlantic community and for our part of the world but globally for everyone who believes in UN stature, is for us in the future to become the member of the alliance. That is a peaceful defensive alliance of the people with like minded values.
MARGARET BRENNAN: 45 billion in U.S. support to Ukraine has been pledged so far. But that funding ends in September, and they’ll have to be a request for more. Are you concerned about all the political pressures that may make that more difficult, particularly going into a presidential election year?
AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, any democracy, and Ukraine and the U.S. are both democracies, have good democratic elections and processes. And yes, it’s an additional factor, but I believe American people support us and we’re very grateful for American people for the support we have received. We will always remember it. And I know that the majority of politicians on both sides of the aisle you know, equally, we have this strong bipartisan support. And I really hope that Ukraine will continue uniting people in Ukraine, even through this electoral process,
MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, we will be watching closely in the coming days and weeks and thinking of Ukraine. Thank you for joining us.
AMB. MARKAROVA: Thank you.