The following is a transcript of an interview with Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova that aired Sunday, Sept. 11, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we are joined now once again by Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States Oksana Makarova. Madam Ambassador, good morning to you. An incredible past few days for your country. I wonder as you have this progress, if concern is growing that Russia will resort to more brutality to respond to the success Ukraine has had?
AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Well, our 200 days fall on the September 11. And we know this pain and we feel this pain in Ukraine. We know how is it when terrorists attack you at home. So we always have to keep in mind that Russia still can do a lot of damage. But we don’t have any other choice, we will advance. As we said before, we will not surrender. And we will liberate all Ukraine, because this is what we have to do not only to restore our territorial integrity, but to save all of our people who are under occupation. And we see from the footage from more than 1,200 square miles, which have been liberated during the past,
literally eight days, the most- fast counter offensive since the World War Two. We see how they are meeting and greeting our armed forces. And we also unfortunately, see already the signs of the brutal war crimes that have been committed there, no different from what we saw after we liberated the Kyiv Oblast. So we have to win and this counter offensive shows that we can win. And we’re repeating the success that we had in the Kyiv Oblast.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Retired General Ben Hodges told our David Martin that Ukraine’s military could push Russia back to the borders that existed pre-February 24th, when the invasion happened, and that could happen before the end of the year. Do you agree with that timeline?
AMB. MARKAROVA: Again, this operation was possible because of the resolve of the armed forces, because our commanding- commanders from the President, to every commander in the battlefield, so devoted to the victory, but also because 40 million of Ukrainians support in this effort and fighting for- for our country. But more importantly, because our partners have increased all the support, and we’re getting more and more of the weapons and the equipment that is so needed for that. So of course, we would like to liberate all Ukraine, as soon as possible, to stop the suffering of the people and to restore our sovereignty. But whether it will be possible before the end of the year, we- we are ready to do it before the end of the year and hopefully, we will have everything we need to do so.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden administration made some announcements of further support: $2.2 billion and long-term military financing for Ukraine and its neighbors, this was just in the past week. $675 million package of heavy weapons. Your Foreign Minister tweeted this morning, that now it’s about ‘schedule, schedule and schedule’. So you’re getting these pledges, is there a complaint it’s not arriving fast enough?
AMB. MARKAROVA: We don’t have any complaints. If you look at August and September, we see that the announcements are very regular and we’re getting a lot of announcements on a weekly basis. We also see, and it’s very important, and it has been a highlight of this Secretary Blinken’s visit to Kyiv, that we’re not only talking about what is necessary right now for us to win today, but we are increasingly discussing the long-term support and everything that we need in order to build what we call the enduring strengths. So the USA package that was announced, $3 billion that was announced in- on the Independence Day, and the $2.2 billion out of which about $1 billion will go to Ukraine in the foreign financing is not only what we need now, but also what we will need in the coming months and years in order to be able to defend ourselves.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How much longer does this war last?
AMB. MARKAROVA: It will last until we win and we definitely would like it to be shorter because the Russians are not only attacking us. They’re attacking Europe, the energy crisis, the food crisis, everything they’re trying to create in order to not only attack Ukraine, but every democracy that is together with us fighting for the democracy now. So the faster we do it, the faster we will return to rebuilding and renovating our country but also to some kind of normal life in Europe and globally.
MARGARET BRENNAN: How should people understand what is happening now with the nuclear reactor in Ukraine?
AMB. MARKAROVA: The situation is totally unacceptable from any type of international standpoint. The Russian Armed Forces that shouldn’t be in Ukraine in the first place, and definitely shouldn’t be at the nuclear plant which is the largest nuclear plant in Europe, are putting in danger the lives not only of Ukrainians, but also the whole region by being there and doing the things that–
MARGARET BRENNAN: But shutting down the reactor, does that avert catastrophe?
AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, this is- this is- we’re trying everything possible and Ukrainians who are there at the station, despite of the fact that they’re there, under the guns all the time, trying to do everything possible to minimize the risks. So we are forced to do it, we are forced to shut it down. It’s not a complete resolution, the complete resolution is for Russians to get out, to implement the recommendations of the IAEA and to demilitarize the plant, which means that Russians should leave. That will bring their safety. But in the meantime, again, the Ukrainian personnel there is doing everything possible in order to avert any type of catastrophes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The last time you were here in April, you told us that there were roughly 91,000 Ukrainian children who had been taken from their families and brought into Russia. Has there been any progress in bringing them home? You asked for the US to help with this.
AMB. MARKAROVA: We are asking everyone and unfortunately was this– fortunately with the counter offensive, but we see already that during the counter offensive Russians are trying to move more kids from the territories which were liberated prior to deliberations to Russia. So this issue of identifying and finding every children that Russian stolen from us and return them back safely is still one of the top priorities. And hopefully, after we win, we will be able to get them all back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Very quickly. Should we expect your president to come to the United Nations in the coming days in-person? Can he leave?
AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, it all depends on the situation on the ground. So we cannot say anything right now. But hopefully we will be able to have more good news from Ukraine and more territories to return home.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That would be significant. Thank you, Madam Ambassador. We’ll be right back in a moment.