Watch CBS News

Transcript: Ukrainian Ambassador Oksana Markarova on "Face the Nation," February 20, 2022

Ukraine using "every opportunity" to prevent invasion, ambassador says
Ukraine using "every opportunity" to prevent Russian invasion, ambassador says 06:10

The following is a transcript of an interview with Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova that aired Sunday, February 20, 2022, on "Face the Nation."

MARGARET BRENNAN: Our interview with the Russian ambassador was taped earlier this morning before we learned from David Martin that Russian forces have actually received orders to invade. We turn now to the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova. Good morning and welcome back to the program, Ambassador.

AMBASSADOR OKSANA MARKAROVA: Good morning. It's always glad- happy to be here.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Given what we have learned, do you believe that there is still a window of opportunity to actually stop Russia from invading?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we will work day and night to make use of any possibility to still prevent Russia from invasion. But unfortunately, what we see during the last two days- or three days now tells us that contrary to what Mr. Antonov was just saying, that not only Russia amassed all the troops around the border, but they also threw their illegal armed formations in uncontrolled Donetsk and Lugansk started a series of provocations. They started shelling our civilian objects. They- we have already two people dead, 11 people wounded, and it keeps going as we speak.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Was it significant to you at all that he said those that part of the East actually is part of Ukraine?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, that part is- Donetsk and Lugansk is part of Ukraine. Crimea is part of Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: He disagreed with as you heard him.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, absolutely. But here he disagrees with us and the rest of the world. 

MARGARET BRENNAN: President Zelensky called for a cease fire this morning. What can you tell us about what is actually happening on the ground and-and in some of these diplomatic talks?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, President Zelensky's main concern, main concern is to preserve the country, but also preserve every life of Ukrainian citizens. So, we are using, while preparing to defend our country, we're using every possibility to still choose the diplomatic path and force Russia to choose the diplomatic path. So everything from the UN, to OEC, to Vienna document which we engaged to the consultations on, to Budapest memorandum. I mean, we are calling not only on aggressor, which is Russia, but also on all of our friends and allies to get together and use every opportunity to still deter Russia from invading.

MARGARET BRENNAN: But your president- you are a diplomat. You are choosing your words carefully. Your president was very sharp with his yesterday, and he made clear that the West is not doing enough in his view. What are you asking Washington to do right now?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Look, we are very grateful to the United States, to everyone, to President Biden, Vice President Harris, Secretary Blinken, Congress on a bipartisan basis. We're very grateful for all the support, military support, political support, strong messages, even more importantly for leadership in getting the transatlantic unity behind it and you know, everyone getting together to support us. What we see right now is all the strong messages I get to get Russia not only to get out from the borders of Ukraine, but also during the past three days started an offensive.

MARGARET BRENNAN: Your president said it was appeasement. Appeasement over the past few years.

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, again, let me remind everyone we are at war, and we are under attack for the past eight years, and should harsh sanctions or harsh reactions were in place in 2014 and 2015, maybe today we would be discussing the rocket launch that was yesterday was the first stage from Ukrainian companies or some other, more peaceful items to discuss. But unfortunately, today we are starting this morning as people are being shelled at in Ukraine.

MARGARET BRENNAN: You were previously Ukraine's finance minister. You worked in the Finance Ministry. I know that Ukraine has come under incredible cyber attacks over the past few years, and you expect them to start up. You've already had the largest in your country's history just within the past week. What specifically do you expect to happen in the next few days? Target your electrical grid? Your banks? Water? What should we be prepared for?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Well, we expect everything, unfortunately, and we know that again, our intelligence is now declassified and Putin publicly. A lot of information about the prepared terrorist acts on the and controlled territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, but also warning about all potential cyber and information attacks. So on cyber front, we learned our lessons from the previous attacks during the previous eight years, and we are specifically protecting our financial, electric- electrical and other critical systems for Ukraine. We can already see that couple a week ago when we had one of the largest attack on our financial and banking system, contrary to 2015 and 16, when these attacks resulted in massive breaches of security and some of the banks not been operational for days, this time it- the majority of banks were not even affected. And some of the banks were back up pretty quickly. So again, together with the United States, we're working a lot on the cyber protection and prevention of the cyber attacks.

MARGARET BRENNAN: There have been a number of reports in recent days that US intelligence has evidence that Russia is creating a hit list of Ukrainians, of Russians, of other activists and political leaders living outside the country. Are you concerned about your own safety?

AMB. MARKAROVA: Difficult question, but I think we all are concerned about Ukraine and there are so many Ukrainians that are ready to resist and fight for Ukraine in Ukraine, but also outside of Ukraine. We have great community here in the United States as well so that, you know, whatever they will in whatever crimes they're willing to commit in order to kill some of us, it will not stop others and it will not help their cause.

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

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.