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March 30, 2023 4:10 pm

‘We Will Win’ Ukrainian Ambassador Tells American Jewish Committee Seder


avatar by Andrew Bernard

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, addressing the American Jewish Committee’s Diplomatic Seder, 30 March, 2023 (Photo: Screenshot)

Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US on Wednesday said that the American Jewish community has supported Ukraine “every day” since Russia’s further invasion of her country in February 2022.

Speaking at a press conference before the American Jewish Committee’s (AJC) annual diplomatic seder, Oksana Markarova said that Ukraine’s fight against Russia was a fight for freedom and against slavery.

“We have our great defenders, who are defending literally 24/7, day and night, our country, our freedom, our houses, our loved ones,” Markarova said. “We will not give up. We will not surrender. There is no life for us under occupation. There is no slavery that Ukraine will accept.”

Speaking about Ukraine’s relationship with Israel, Markarova said that Iran’s contribution to Russia’s war effort means that Ukraine and Russia now face a common threat.

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“After Iran joined this autocratic club and started giving Russia the weapons which destroy our schools, our residential buildings, I think it’s even more evident that together with Israel we have not only a common culture, not only a common history […] but this is something that we have to also fight together,” she said.

Israel has taken a nuanced approach to the conflict in Ukraine because of what Israeli officials describe as Israel’s de-facto border with Russia due to Russia’s military presence in Syria. So far, that has meant that Israel’s support to Ukraine has largely consisted of humanitarian and non-lethal aid, including helmets and flak jackets.

During Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen’s visit to Ukraine in February, Ukraine repeated its request for Israeli air defense technology to counter Russian missile and drone attacks.

“Israel is well aware of our list of military needs, it was handed over to the previous government, it was handed over to this government. We will wait for the adoption of appropriate decisions. First of all, it is about protecting the Ukrainian sky,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.

Asked by The Algemeiner about Iran’s role in the conflict, Markarova said that she was grateful for American assistance in sanctioning Iran for its arms shipments to Russia.

“We are cooperating very closely with our American colleagues, providing them with all the information and we will continue doing so to strengthen sanctions against Russia, to strengthen sanctions against Iran and Belarus, but also anyone who’s helping them to procure the parts in order to produce drones,” she said. “We have to double down on sanctions and we have to send a very clear message that it’s not okay […] to participate in the war crimes that Russia is conducting in Ukraine.”

Markarova also addressed concerns that support for the Ukrainian war effort might be ebbing among Republicans, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis’ comment that described the war as “a territorial dispute.”

“Frankly, I just don’t see a decrease,” Markarova said. “We have very strong support in the House from both parties.”

She added that DeSantis’ more recent comments in which he said that Putin was a “war criminal” who should be “held accountable” and his record of support for Ukraine in Congress were a clear indication of his views on the conflict.

At the conclusion of her prepared remarks at AJC’s seder, Markarova cited Elie Wiesel’s views on Passover as inspiration for Ukraine’s struggle.

“He loved Passover because it’s a cry against indifference and a cry for compassion,” she said. “I would like to thank you for your cry against indifference, and I would like to thank you for your compassion. With this, and with our devotion to freedom, we will win, together.”

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