Just days after the Russian invasion of her country hit the one-year mark, the Ukraine ambassador to the United States stopped by The American Legion’s Washington Conference in the nation’s capital to thank the organization for its support of their resistance efforts.
In February 2022, the Legion’s National Executive Committee passed Resolution No. 1, which while opposing the deployment of U.S. troops for in-theater combat operations unless several stringent conditions are met, also urges the U.S. administration to “continue the supply of lethal and non-lethal aid to Ukrainian forces.” It also calls for a peaceful conflict resolution.
“The support and your strong voice that you have provided to us have been irreplaceable, and we really value it,” Oksana Markarova said on Feb. 28 at the Washington Hilton. “Right after the February invasion, we were very honored to see the emergency resolution that you had passed. And that document underscored your extreme concern about the horrific consequences that occurred during the war. You have stressed that there’s absolutely no justification for the Russian aggression, which we all know, but we are very happy that you felt it so strongly right at the beginning. And that also you called for all the efforts to establish peace.
“Nobody wants just peace more than Ukrainians. But we also know we want to live in a free and independent country. We cannot live under occupation. As much as we want just peace, we will fight until we win.”
But Markarova didn’t just thank the Legion for its words. “I also want to thank all the Legionnaires who also, in addition to the strong voices of support, engaged in specific help to Ukrainians everywhere,” she said. “I will not mention specific posts, because there are so many of you who have done amazing help, from launching the Ukrainian Refugee Online Academy to collecting and generating money to Ukrainians here, but sending so much gear and supplies to our fights back home. Thank you for the support. I know we can count on you, and I know you feel this fight because you represent the best part of Americans who are fighting for freedom on the frontlines every day.”
Calling the Russian invasion an unprovoked attack and “an attempt to restore whatever evil empire they’re trying to restore,” Markarova said Ukrainians “just wanted to be home and run our country like we want to run it. Elect our officials. Change them regularly. Be a vibrant democracy.”
Markarova praised those currently serving in the Ukraine military and those who served previously and then answered their nation’s call again when Russia invaded.
“Today is the 370th day (of the invasion). 370th day of atrocities, hardships. 370th day of bravery,” she said. “And we stand for 370 days because we are fortunate to have our armed forces, and we are so fortunate to have 400,000 veterans before this phase of war who we knew at the first day would go and defend our country. And that’s what happened.
“We will fight until we win. We have started this winning when … our brave president on the first day on this invasion said, ‘I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying here and I will fight with my country.’ We have won already when we liberated Kyiv and others, and we can liberate the whole Ukraine. We have already won when we have proven that our face is stronger than our fear.”
There is still fear, Markarova said. But that feeling is not as strong as the need for independence. “Of course, to see the tortures and civilians being killed, and houses being destroyed and schools and hospitals and the infrastructure everywhere, it’s scary,” she said. “But to be not free, to live under occupation, is much scarier. So, we know there’s no other choice for us than to win.”