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Ukraine ambassador tells U.S. Congress forces need more weapons, aid

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Ukrainian ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova told House and Senate lawmakers that Ukrainian forces need more weapons and aid to combat invading Russian forces. Screen capture/C-Span
Ukrainian ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova told House and Senate lawmakers that Ukrainian forces need more weapons and aid to combat invading Russian forces. Screen capture/C-Span

Feb. 28 (UPI) -- Ukraine's ambassador Oksana Markarova on Monday told U.S. lawmakers that the nation needs more assistance from the United States to avoid running out of military supplies to fight back a Russian invasion.

Following meetings with a bipartisan group of House and Senate lawmakers, Markarova said Ukraine needs additional weapons and ongoing pressure through sanctions in order to successfully fend off the invasion that began last week.

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"We work actively with the administration, the president and also with Congress on getting more weapons, so we need more weapons," she told reporters after the talks. "And we are not asking anyone to fight for us, we are defending our country ourselves. But we need all the support that all civilized world can give us to actually continue effectively fighting, and also sanctions."

Markarova said she also told lawmakers that Russia is "essentially killing innocent civilians," comparing the nation's actions to Nazi Germany in WWII.

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"Today they shot again into not only residential areas but also the orphanages and schools and kindergartens, horrible -- they have to pay the price," she said. "They have to be isolated."

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She also accused Russia of using a thermobaric weapon, known as a vacuum bomb, in violation of the Geneva Convention.

"They used the vacuum bomb today," said Markarova. "The devastation that Russia is trying to inflict on Ukraine is large."

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Ultimately, Markarova felt the U.S. lawmakers and the Ukrainian caucus were on the "same page."

"It's no secret they need more help. They've got the weapons they need right now but they're going to run out of what they need soon so we've got to get a supplemental [spending bill] passed quickly," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told reporters after the meeting.

Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., the top-ranking Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee, also said he wanted a supplemental spending package for Ukraine, separate from an omnibus spending bill.

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"I think it ought not be part of the omnibus but ought to be moving at the same time. Because it's a separate thing, we're talking about emergency money as opposed to the regular order," said Shelby.

A group of 40 Democrats and two Republicans, led by Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., and Rob Portman, R-Ohio, also sent a letter to President Joe Biden calling on the administration to offer Temporary Protected Status to Ukrainians.

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The senators said the invasion has made it "too dangerous" for deportees to return to Ukraine and that a TPS designation would benefit a "limited population," noting that 30,000 Ukrainians were granted temporary U.S. visas in the fiscal year 2020.

"Forcing Ukrainian nationals to return to Ukraine in the midst of a war would be inconsistent with America's values and our national security interests," they wrote.

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