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Transcript: Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on "Face the Nation," March 13, 2022

Ukrainian foreign minister urges West to send jets
Ukrainian foreign minister urges West to send more fighter jets to defend against Russia 05:30

The following is a transcript of an interview with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba that aired Sunday, March 13, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: We're back with the foreign minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, who is in Kiev. Good morning to you, minister.


MARGARET BRENNAN: The Biden administration is warning of an impending chemical weapons attack in Ukraine. Do you have any further information about where or when or what the consequences would be? Would NATO defend you?

KULEBA: Well, we don't know the details, but we do not exclude that option because we see that Russia is using one prohibited weapon after another to break us down, and United Nations have already confirmed that some of the internationally prohibited weapons have been used against Ukrainian civilians, against our cities. So we will work closely with the United States and other partners trying to identify where chemical weapons can or may be- may be used by Russia. And when you're asking me whether NATO will defend us, well, we do not have- we do not expect that. What we are asking is very simple thing. We say arm Ukraine and we will do the rest. Give us all the weapons necessary and we will fight for our own land and for our people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: How reliable are those Western supply lines into Ukraine right now?

KULEBA: Well, they operate, they're functioning, so this is a good sign, and we appreciate those partners who are involved in these supplies. However, of course, in the end, it's all about the quantity and the quality of weapons that we receive, and we currently reach the stage we need- where we need some new advanced weapons to fight Russia, to fight against Russia, to defend ourselves, and we're negotiating with partners including the United States. I hope that all decisions will be swift and we will get what we need because again, we are ready to fight, but we need to be properly equipped to do so.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, President Biden approved another two hundred million in weapons, but those are small arms, anti-aircraft as well. There is the promise that Congress will be sending more money your way. What specific types of weapons do you need? What kind of sophisticated systems?

KULEBA: Well, the highest demand is in planes, in fighting- fighting jets, in attack aircraft because unfortunately, the air force power of Russia and Ukraine are uncomparable. And yes, it's true that we shoot them down, but they also- they also shoot us down. And if we lose control over the sky, we cannot prevent two things from happening. We cannot prevent- we cannot stop Russian bombers, destroy our cities and killing civilians. And we cannot destroy Russian columns heading towards our big cities on the roads. To achieve these two purposes, we need more planes. This is the- the most pressing issue. We- frankly speaking, we don't understand all the explanations that we are given, why we should not be- why we should not be given those planes and we will continue putting pressure on our- and from all corners and requesting this assistance from the United States and other partners.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It was on this program last Sunday that the Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the decision by Poland to provide fighter jets to Ukraine gets a green light from the United States. Then, days later, President Biden spiked that. Do you have a sense that any country will give you fighter jets?

KULEBA: Well, it's- frankly everything that happens over the fighting jets in the last week is kind of a diplomatic mystery. On the one hand, everyone is ready to do it- to do it, but nothing is happening and we are not getting the planes. It reminds me of other ping pong game where every side throws the ball to the other side and gets it back. We have no time for this kind of ping pong diplomacy. We need planes to save lives of our people and to stop Rus- to stop, to put an end to Russian domination in the sky. And I ask as foreign minister and I beg as Ukrainian to find common ground on this issue and provide Ukraine with what it needs to defend itself.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The United States argues giving these jets would be escalatory and a risk to NATO, a risk to United States, and that you have things like drones that work just fine.

KULEBA: I - to my view, this logic is flawed because the drones are not escalatory and planes are escalatory. What is the logic behind it? Anti-tank weapons are not escalatory and planes are escalatory. First, what else Russia has to do for everyone to understand that they already reached the peak of escalation? They used, as I mentioned in the beginning, weapons prohibited by the international conventions. Why are we so afraid of another- another escalation? We need- we need to defend ourselves. And then the second point that I'm hearing is that planes are offensive weapons, and therefore they can not be supplied because the partner is only supplying defensive weapons to Ukraine. I'm sorry, but all weapons given to us are defensive by definition, because they are being used to defend this country. And I don't understand what else has to happen, what kind of atrocity has to be committed for foreigners to put all this flawed arguments aside and finally provide us with what we need.

MARGARET BRENNAN: The president of Poland said that what happened in the past week, specifically the bombing of that maternity hospital that got so much attention around the world, that it bears the features of genocide. Is that what you believe Russia's intent is?

KULEBA: Well, Russia, President Putin definitely believes that Ukraine has no right to exist as a country. He doesn't recognize our identity. He says we are Russians, we are not Ukrainians. We are the same, which is obviously not the case. And from what we've been seeing in recent- in recent three weeks is a series of deliberately committed war crimes, crimes against humanity. And when they bomb hospitals, maternity houses, schools, when they kill civilians passing by trying to be evacuated from the war zone, that, of course, indicates that they are trying to break us down and to destroy us.

BRENNAN: Ukraine's defense minister said that more civilians have been killed than Ukrainian military forces. Do you have any sense of the toll thus far of this war?

KULEBA: Well, it's- unfortunately the death toll of civilians is more is in thousands. I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, so I don't want to speculate on this. But Minister of Defense is right. More civilians have been killed, more of them, more than soldiers and police officers and National Guard officers and soldiers fighting against the Russians. And this is mainly the result of the use of Russian Air Force to attack our cities. Only today as we speak, I had to go to to go down to the bomb shelter twice because of the air- air raid- potential air raid attack. In both cases, the Russian plane flew over us. We were not the target this time, but who knows, maybe the next time we will be the target. Civilians died because of the massive control of the skies by the Russians, and this is why we're asking you to help us specifically with the planes.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Before I let you go one question. Russia has reportedly kidnapped at least two mayors of Ukrainian cities and is replacing them with pro-Russian individuals. What do you believe this indicates about the plans to occupy your country and what Putin's endgame is here?

KULEBA: Well, first, it speaks for the fact that we resist. That even if Russia establishes control over a certain city or town in southern Ukraine, the local- local authorities, local citizens, they resist this occupation. They do not agree with it. They oppose the attempt to impose the Russian rule in these territories. So this forces the Russians to use terrorist tactics and kidnap- kidnap our mayors, our members of our city council to put pressure on them, intimidate them. The second is- the second fact is that yes, Russia tries to change the authorities in order to establish itself as an occupying power in this region. And this is why to all together with partners, Ukraine has to react in the strongest terms possible and impose the strongest measures on Russia so that everyone will know that this comes with a price.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Minister, thank you for your time and stay safe. We'll be right back with a lot more. Face the nation. Stay with us.

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