Transcript: Oksana Markarova on "Face the Nation," Feb. 25, 2024

The following is a transcript of an interview with Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova that aired on Feb. 25, 2024.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Saturday marked two years since Russia launched a full scale invasion of Ukraine. And we are joined now by the Ukrainian ambassador to the United States. Oksana Markarova. Good to have you back with us.


MARGARET BRENNAN: It is a very solemn weekend. I know your president just acknowledged 31,000 Ukrainians have died in this fight. He also said that the Congress knows that your country is running out of funding and weaponry. Where are we right now? How close are we to having battlefield setbacks in a significant way?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Thank you. Yes, two years of full fledged war, 10 years of war, 31,000 just defenders, we don’t even know how many civilians actually are dead until we liberate everything. And we see on the battlefield that this war is still very winnable, if we have supply of weapons and support, but also it’s- it’s the war that unfortunately, can be lost if the support is not there and we run out. So we really need it yesterday. And I’m- I’m very glad that there have been very active discussions all this time. And I really hope that the House will come back this week, and that we will see real solutions and we will see decisions taken. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well you just heard from the two congressmen that they are now forcing consideration as soon as March the 7 for this aid to Ukraine. Your president said today, we need support within a month.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Absolutely. And that support could be there within a month. Like, we hear–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Is military support enough?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we need all the support. We need military support, we need budget support, we need humanitarian support, because we need to sustain the effort on the battlefield, but elsewhere we need to care for people, we need to teach people, we need to create bomb shelters in order to protect, it’s all very much interrelated. But what we also heard, and we know that we do have strong bipartisan support. We have the votes, as the two colleagues just said here. And also we know publicly from Speaker Johnson that he understands the- the need to win for all of us. It’s- it’s a global security play. And we heard the concerns. You know, of course, some concerns are not related to us, that- that he voiced, and some about the transparency and accountability. And we have provided a lot of information. So hopefully, with the constant dialogue between the two parties, between the White House and Congress, we will see the decisions, because as we said for a number of times we need it yesterday.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The White House says that Russia had its first battlefield victory in a year within the past week, in this eastern town in Ukraine, because there aren’t enough weapons and ammunition being provided. And- and Jake Sullivan pointed to Congress as the reason why. Is it that simple? 

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, the- the war has always been about weapons. You know, we always had enough motivated Ukrainians to defend our homes. And we always needed more weapons at- at any given time. But of course, now the situation is critical. And I wouldn’t call it a victory because we defended Avdiivka for 10 years. And Russian simply destroyed it, they did not take it over. They- they destroyed the whole town like they’ve done to so many, and they already have lost almost 400,000 people in Ukraine trying to invade us. So you know, we are winning this war, we liberated 50%, we cleared the Black Sea. It’s a critical, pivotal point now, in which if we receive the support and weapons, we can liberate more, and we can not only liberate us, we can defend the free world, because it’s not just about Ukraine. It’s about Russia, together with Iran and North Korea, who are supplying missiles and all democracies together. Can we defend ourselves? And I really want to answer that question, yes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It- it is becoming an election year issue with the former President Donald Trump arguing against support for NATO, essentially. And he has a history with your president. And obviously that first impeachment hearing where he- that infamous phone call with President Zelenskyy. Are- are you looking at- at that really dictating what’s possible right now? A presidential campaign is impacting what you are saying is the future of democracy in Europe?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, any- any president of the United States or any candidate to the president is the president of this great country that is based on the values for which we are fighting on the battlefield. It’s, as I said a number of times, the issue of supporting Ukraine, freedom, democracy, the issue of standing together with a democratic ally, is not a partisan issue. It’s strongly bipartisan issue, and I’m sure it will be bipartisan and I think the only competition there could be how to do it faster, how to win faster, how to show that democracies can stand their ground.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I met this week three children from Ukraine who had been kidnapped by Russia as part of this state sponsored program. It was very hard to hear what these children have been through. But your government says there are at least 30,000 other kids that you know of who were also taken. How is it possible that there is no coordinated international effort right now to bring these children home?

AMB. MARKAROVA: This- this is not only a war crime and a tragedy, but something that is a blank in the international law. Russians actually claimed they have hundreds of thousands of our children–

MARGARET BRENNAN: They said 700,000.

AMB. MARKAROVA: –they said 700,000, so it can be as bad as that. And literally, you know, it’s- it’s one of the first times after World War Two and Nazis when they simply abduct children, put them up for speedy adoptions, torture them, indoctrinate them, put them through this reeducation camps. That’s why we have created this Bring Kids Back UA initiative. And that’s why we’re so glad that so many countries, and I’m so glad that you asked, has joined it so we can actually formulate the mechanism of how to deal with it. And this is horrible, you know, Putin should be in prison until the rest of his life, at least for this crime.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Just another thing that U.S. funding is used for. Ambassador, thank you. We’ll be back in a moment.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Thank you very much.

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