Transcript: Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova on “Face the Nation,” May 8, 2022

The following is a transcript of an interview with Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova that aired Sunday, May 8, 2022, on “Face the Nation.”


MARGARET BRENNAN: Charlie D’Agata, thank you. And some breaking news this morning. CBS News has learned that the Biden administration is sending a small group of American diplomats, including the acting Ambassador to the U.S. embassy in Kyiv, to counter Russia’s Victory Day celebrations. State Department sources tell CBS that the embassy hopes to resume operations and raise the American flag there in the coming weeks. We turn now to Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova. Good morning. Welcome back to the program.

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Good morning and happy Mother’s Day.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Happy Mother’s Day to you as well and to all the mothers out there. President Zelenskyy has said that he will speak with President Biden and other world leaders this morning. What are you expecting in terms of further support?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Thank you. Well, you know, as we celebrate the 77th also anniversary of the end of the World War Two, it’s critical that we all do everything possible to stop the war that Russian regime, very much like Nazi regime, started in Europe again. So the president will raise everything that we have been discussing during the past- this past 73 days: more military support, more sanctions, more financial support to Ukraine. We count on all of our friends and allies to help us with everything so we can stop Russia while it’s still in Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Putin is expected to make a speech tomorrow in Red Square. It’s not clear exactly what he is going to announce, but the CIA director said yesterday Putin is doubling down. What exactly are you preparing for?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we know that there are no red lines for the regime in Moscow, so we’re preparing for everything. They said they will not go into- that they were not going to attack us, and they did. They said that there is no war in Ukraine for the past eight years, and we know it was. They said they didn’t take the Crimea and they did. They said they’re not killing civilians, and yet we see everywhere the deaths of women, children. They torture them, they rape them, they kill them. So we can count that Putin and imperialistic Russia will do everything bad they can possibly try to do. The question is, are we all prepared, the civilized world, to do everything possible to defend our democracy and freedom? And Ukraine certainly is not only ready, but shows for the past 74 days that we bravely defend those values and defend our homes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There is some speculation that Putin could officially acknowledge the country is at war and then start conscripting soldiers, which would help him build up that offensive in the East. Is that what you’re expecting?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, that would be the first time when Putin will say the truth, that it is war and that he is in dire need of conscripting soldiers. I hope that then it will be evident for all- to all Russians what they are doing in Ukraine. That it’s an aggressive war. They attacked a neighboring country, a peaceful country. And the question is, are they prepared to have more tens of thousands dying in Ukraine for no reason at all?

MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.S. said a few days ago that Russia is planning sham elections and they’re going to try to annex parts of your country, Donetsk, Luhansk in the east, also Kherson. They’re already renaming schools and streets, teaching Russian curriculum, forcing the use of their currency. So what is dismantling this part of your country actually do? Because if you want to get to a peace negotiation, they’re already sort of swallowing parts of your country and trying to integrate it.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, in addition to all the war crimes they’re doing in Ukraine, this is part of their M.O. We saw it in Donetsk and Luhansk, which they occupied in 2014. We saw it in Crimea. So they tried to create the sham elections. They cannot find enough Ukrainians to participate in them as we saw in Kherson, as we see in other places. We will never recognize it, the whole world will never recognize it. And we will do everything possible on the battlefield, but also diplomatically, to restore our territorial integrity and sovereignty.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So the world will never recognize it?

AMB. MARKAROVA: I’m positive– 

MARGARET BRENNAN: –Meaning?

AMB. MARKAROVA: I’m positive. Ukraine has to be whole within the internationally recognized borders.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So those sanctions the West has put on would stay in place– 

AMB. MARKAROVA: Absolutely. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: –Is another way to say that. You know, we are seeing these reports out of Mariupol that there were some successful evacuations. It’s just a dire humanitarian situation there. Can you tell us what is happening on the ground? Who is left there?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Our brave defenders, lots of wounded, a lot of doctors are still there. So as of yesterday, we saw the reports and our president has done everything possible to evacuate civilians. Now, while that is a success, of course, to get the civilians, women and children out, we have to remember that 95% of Mariupol is destroyed, that tens of thousand civilians died in Mariupol, were killed by Russians. Actually, more Mariupol citizens were killed by Russians in two months than by Nazis during two years of Nazi occupation in- during the World War Two. So we are calling on everyone to do everything possible and impossible to get our wounded soldiers, to get our heroes, to create all possible corridors, in order to get our people still out from Azovstal, where they bravely defend the Ukrainian flag and Ukraine in Mariupol.

MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s that steel plant where–

AMB. MARKAROVA: Yes. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: –fighters have been holed up with some civilians. President Zelenskyy said influential states were involved in efforts to rescue hundreds of wounded fighters there. Who exactly is helping? What does that mean? Is that on the ground help? Is that just diplomatic?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we know that U.N. Secretary General has been in- in direct contact with our president, but also with others. There are a lot of diplomatic discussions with other states on that. So I think, you know, after the war, we will be able to talk about all the efforts that were- that were done–

MARGARET BRENNAN: Israel, for example.

AMB. MARKAROVA: –But on the ground, it’s you know, it’s our brave Ukrainians. And while evacuating civilians, we have to know that so many of our soldiers from Azov steel, from this plant who were trying- helping civilians to get out have been killed and wounded during these attempts too.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How significant is the intelligence sharing that the West is providing to Ukraine? We hear a lot about the weapons, but what about the actual sharing of information?

AMB. MARKAROVA: I think, you know, the sharing of information between Ukraine and the West with all of our friends and allies is at the level which we never had before. And we really appreciate it.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, thank you for your time today.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Thank you.

MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back with a lot more FACE THE NATION. So stay with us.