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Transcript: Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova on "Face the Nation," July 24, 2022

Ukrainian ambassador pushes for more weapons after Russian port attack
Ukrainian ambassador to U.S. says Russian attack on port shows need for more weapons 06:59

The following is a transcript of an interview with Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova that aired Sunday, July 24, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Today marks five months since Russia launched a full scale war on Ukraine. The invasion has cost tens of thousands of lives and it has roiled the global economy. For a look at where the fight stands now we are joined by Ukraine's ambassador to the United States, Oksana Makarova. Madam Ambassador, it's good to have you back on the program.

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Good morning and thank you for having me.

MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about what just happened in the past 24 to 48 hours, there's an estimated 20 million metric tons of grain stuck in Ukraine – can't get out. This is contributing to food inflation and food shortages around the world. So less than 24-hours after signing this UN broker deal to allow Ukraine's grain to export, Russia sent missiles into the Odessa port city where that grain would be transiting. This is what the State Department says. Your government said it's like spit in the face of the UN in Turkey. But you're sticking with the deal. Why?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, what happened in the port is so Russian, and it's very telling about what has been happening for the past eight years. For the past eight years, Ukraine always acted in good faith and tried everything possible and sometimes impossible, to end the war. And to return our sovereignty similar with this 151 days. We are defendant we are standing strong in defending our country. And at the same time, we will find any options in order to resolve the crisis. It's like this food crisis that Russia has created for other countries, not only for Ukraine. So we will do everything in order to perform and fulfill our part of the deal. Now when Russia is violating it, they're clearly showing who they are, and that they need to be stopped.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So is Russia technically violating it? Because unnamed UN officials are quoted as saying it- they may not have because Russia never pledged to avoid attacking the parts of the Ukrainian ports that are not directly used for grain exports. Really? It seems like a pretty big oversight?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, let's call it what it is. Everything Russia is doing in Ukraine is a violation of pretty much every international law, taking a- a sovereign country is a violation. It's a war crime. So we have the deal with UN and with our colleagues from Turkey. We are fulfilling the deal. They agreed also with Russia, and they have to first stop the war, you know, and they have to do everything without even any initiative signs. But with this, I think they just showing their true face again. So the good response to that should be more weapons to Ukraine so that we can defend ourselves, we can get them out from our country. And we can unblock our ports. And unblock all Ukraine in order not only to ship the grain, but the sunflower and everything else that has been stuck in Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Right, that impacts your baby formula that impacts food stocks for everything, but- but does this attack make it make that food crisis worse? Will this hurt your ability to export what little is getting out? 

AMB. MARKAROVA: We will do everything possible and we're exporting even now through the western border, of course, the capacity -- 

MARGARET BRENNAN: – through land  

AMB. MARKAROVA: –through land, through railroad, through all possible ways and we will continue doing so. Our farmers are even planting and harvesting under the fire. So we will as we defend the country, we will continue also to rebuild at the same time and plant and do everything possible to feed us and feed the world. Hopefully, and we see already good results of the new HIMARS and artillery being provided to us, that will allow us to go onto- on the counter offensive and free our territory which we need to do not only for grain, but also to save our people.

MARGARET BRENNAN: So your First Lady was here in Washington and addressed Congress and specifically asked for air defense systems. We know the U.S. has pledged to send National Advanced Surface-to-Air missile systems, but they haven't actually arrived in Ukraine yet. Is that what she was referring to? And what specifically are you asking for?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Yes, very effective visit of the First Lady. And her message that while Russia kills, America saves I think have been heard by everyone here. And yes, we're talking about the NASAMS and other defense systems. We're also talking about more firepower, more artillery, more HIMARS, which just last Friday we heard the announcement of more coming –

MARGARET BRENNAN: These are precision-guided rockets. 

AMB. MARKAROVA: Exactly. And we already see that with that equipment that is very effectively used by our defenders. We're able to destroy the ammo dumps that Russia is creating on the uncontrolled territories, and that we're actually moving into free in more territories in the south and hopefully, with a sufficient number of weapons. We can do the same in the east, but the situation remains very, very difficult still.

MARGARET BRENNAN: It is and we know now U.S. intelligence says Russia controls about 20 percent– 

AMB. MARKAROVA: That's right. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: –of Ukraine. I want to make sure that I bring this up with you because it was so deeply disturbing when I heard it. A State Department official, Ambassador Toria Nuland said, "Russia makes orphans and then it steals orphans." She said up to 1,000 Ukrainian children have been stolen and given to Russian families. What exactly is happening? What can the U.S. government or the American people do about it?

AMB. MARKAROVA: It has been one of the key pleas of the First Lady here on all uncontrolled territories from Mariupol to other places, Russia is forcefully deporting not only adults and families, but specifically children. And Russians themselves already admitted that 350,000 children have been evacuated, as they say, but kidnapped, let's call it the way- what it is to Russia. They have relaxed their own legislation in order to allow them to be adopted quickly into Russian families. This is a brutal violation not only of international law, but of a common decency, how can you steal our children and try to- try to hide them somewhere in Russia, only 47 Children, we were able to return to Ukraine right now. And as of April- August 1, Ukraine will be starting a platform, children at war, which will allow people throughout the globe, including Russia to add information they- about all the children, it's our first priority to locate, find them and return them. And it's very difficult because we don't have control over these territories.

MARGARET BRENNAN: And do you have any hope that you can actually return these children without the United States or other countries getting involved?

AMB. MARKAROVA: We need everyone who can to get involved. And I can assure you that everyone in Ukraine will not rest until all of them are located and returned.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Ambassador, thank you very much for your time. We'll be back in a moment.

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