On Sunday, Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova appeared on ABC’s “This Week” with host George Stephanopoulos to discuss the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.
During the segment, Stephanopoulos asked Markarova about potential negotiations to which Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has agreed — though not on the border of Belarus, as initially suggested.
Markarova first noted that Zelensky has “always focused … on the diplomatic solution,” but that it wasn’t about “surrender.”
After Stephanopoulos asked if Ukraine was willing to “forsake any membership in NATO” in exchange for peace, Markarova made it clear that neither NATO membership, nor any reason provided by Russia regarding the alleged purpose of the invasion, is to be believed.
…first of all, we have to understand here that neither NATO nor any other false pretexts or lies the Russian Federation government is spreading is the real reason why they attacked us. They attacked us because they always wanted to destroy us, because free, democratic, and sovereign Ukraine is a threat to them. We’re a peaceful country. We never attacked them. But they cannot allow us to be independent and just to lead our own lives.
The ambassador added that the 2014 annexation of Crimea was done for the same purposes, and that the pressure from Russia over the last eight years has been exerted for the same reason.
However, Ukrainians are “united right now around one simple idea,” she said, of sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Ukraine’s potential NATO membership is not the real reason Russia invaded, Ukrainian Amb. @OMarkarova tells @GStephanopoulos.
“They attacked us because they always wanted to destroy us, because free, democratic and sovereign Ukraine is a threat to them.” https://t.co/dQspVCMJ2o pic.twitter.com/SHLU0fMoHc
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) February 27, 2022
STEPHANOPOULOS: What more can you tell us about this offer that now the president has accepted to send negotiators to the border of Belarus to meet with Russian negotiators?
MARKAROVA: Well, look, the devastation from the Russian actions and the war crimes is huge, and our president, from the beginning, even before the war started, always focused — was focused on the diplomatic solution. And even after they started the war, he actually called for peace talks all the time. But he always said, we’re ready for peace talks. We are not ready to surrender.
So, of course, we are ready for any peace talks that would stop the war and would get them out from our country. But it’s too early to talk now.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it fair to say that — is the president prepared to forsake any membership in NATO in return for peace?
MARKAROVA: I don’t think — you know, first of all, we have to understand here that neither NATO nor any other false pretexts or lies the Russian Federation government is spreading is the real reason why they attacked us. They attacked us because they always wanted to destroy us, because free, democratic, and sovereign Ukraine is a threat to them.
We’re a peaceful country. We never attacked them. But they cannot allow us to be independent and just to lead our own lives. That’s why they attacked us in 2014. That’s why for the past eight years, they’ve done everything to pressure us into — into this. And that’s why now, they started the war.
But again, in Ukraine, all Ukrainians, whether we speak Ukrainian or Russian, whatever nationalities we are, we are all united right now around one simple idea. We want to be independent. We want to be sovereign, we want to restore our territorial integrity, and we just want Russians to get out from our country and not kill us, I mean, the Russian Army. And they are demotivated.
I mean, you — again, you spoke earlier today about them surrendering, and our minister of internal affairs put out public information about those who are in captivity now and we treat them well, unlike how Russians treat our citizens and civilians, killing children. We’ve lost already so many children. Just recently, a whole family was shot in [their] car. But, you know — and also people who they lost, more than 4,000 Russians will never go back home because they were sent to kill us.