Ukraine “preparing for everything” as Putin plots next move, ambassador says
Washington — Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said Sunday that the country is “preparing for everything” as Ukraine’s military goes on heightened alert ahead of Russia’s “Victory Day,” with officials warning of possible escalation in the ongoing conflict.
“We know that there are no red lines for the regime in Moscow, so we’re preparing for everything,” Markarova said in an interview with “Face the Nation.” “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 [there] 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.”
Russia celebrates Victory Day on May 9 to commemorate its role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, and the Russian military has worked to complete its takeover of, a key port city that has been under bombardment for weeks, in time for the celebrations Monday.
Putin has continued to falsely claim his invasion of Ukraine, which he characterized as a “special military operation,” is part of an effort to remove Nazis from power, and is poised to deliver a speech Monday in Moscow’s Red Square.
There is speculation that during his remarks, Putin could acknowledge the war with Ukraine and begin conscripting soldiers, which would help him bolster his defenses in eastern Ukraine.
Markarova said such a move 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 to all Russians what they are doing in Ukraine, that it’s an aggressive war,” she said. “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?”
Ahead of Russia’s Victory Day, President Biden is set to participate Sunday in a virtual Group of 7 Leaders’ meeting, which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will also join. The White House said the world leaders will discuss the latest developments in Russia’s war, while Markarova said Zelenskyy will continue to press the U.S. and Western allies for more military support, more sanctions and more financial support for Ukraine.
“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,” she said.
While Putin has suffered setbacks in seizing key cities in Ukraine, his forces have shifted their focus to the country’s industrial east. The U.S. has assessed that Russia is preparing to annex the newly occupied southern city of Kherson, as well as the so-called “people’s republics” of Donetsk and Luhansk.
But Markarova said Ukraine “has to be whole within the internationally recognized borders.”
“We will never recognize it, the whole world will never recognize it,” she said. “And we will do everything possible on the battlefield, but also diplomatically, to restore our territorial integrity and sovereignty.”