Kyiv expects Washington to increase sanctions pressure on the Russian Federation, help with the Action Plan for NATO membership, and help with strengthening Ukraine’s defense capability, said Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova.
“First of all, this is, of course, maximum pressure and tougher sanctions by the United States and our European partners, so that the price of aggression against Ukraine for Russia not only does not decrease but increases all the time until the aggressor changes its behavior,”she said in an interview.
Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have deteriorated against the background of the situation in the Donbas. The Ukrainian authorities have repeatedly accused Russia of interfering in the country’s internal affairs. In January 2015, the Verkhovna Rada adopted a statement calling the Russian Federation an “aggressor country.” Russia denies the accusations of the Ukrainian side and calls them unacceptable. Moscow has repeatedly stated that it is not a party to the internal Ukrainian conflict and is interested in Kyiv overcoming the political and economic crisis.
Makarova called “Ukraine’s involvement in the collective security system and our accession to NATO” an important priority. “We hope, with the support of our strategic partner, to do everything necessary within the country as quickly as possible so that obtaining the MAP and our entry into the Alliance becomes reality faster. The third is to help improve the capacity of our armed forces and security system,” she added.
She believes that the states have many opportunities for bilateral cooperation with the United States to strengthen the Ukrainian army and improve security in the Black Sea region.
The ambassador added that she is ready to participate in the work and negotiations with the International Monetary Fund, but this is not her main task as an ambassador. Makarova said that she was “surprised to read” comments that she was appointed to the post for the sake of establishing cooperation with the IMF. According to her, she was given a common task: “the maximum development of our strategic partnership with the United States in all areas that are currently a priority.”
Markarova explained that this includes strengthening cooperation with the Joe Biden administration and political dialogue based on their broad bipartisan support; “active participation in all security issues related to the restoration of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the return of the occupied territories of Donbas and Crimea,” strengthening the security of the country and the region, promoting business development of Ukrainian companies in the United States and supporting exports, attracting US investment.
Crimea became a Russian region after a referendum held there in March 2014, in which 96.77% of Crimean voters and 95.6% of Sevastopol residents voted for joining Russia. The Crimean authorities held a referendum after the coup in Ukraine in February 2014. Ukraine still considers Crimea it’s own but temporarily occupied territory. The Russian leadership has repeatedly stated that the residents of Crimea democratically, in full compliance with international law and the UN Charter, voted for reunification with Russia. According to Russian President Vladimir Putin, the issue of Crimea is “finally closed.”