Ukraine Live Updates: A Russian ‘Casting List’ of Post-Invasion Targets
WASHINGTON — Just above the Reflecting Pool on the steps leading to the Lincoln Memorial, hundreds of people gathered Sunday to remember the approximately 14,000 Ukrainian lives lost since 2014 in fighting with Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country.
Among those present were Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, and two former American diplomats – Marie Yovanovitch, the American ambassador recalled from Kyiv and sacked by then-President Donald J. Trump in 2019, and William B.Taylor. Jr., who served as acting ambassador to Ukraine following Ms Yovanovitch’s departure until January 2020.
A long line of speakers addressed the crowd at the “Stand With Ukraine” rally on a chilly afternoon, including a group of priests from the Ukrainian Catholic, Ukrainian Greek Catholic and Ukrainian Orthodox churches who sang Panychida – a memorial prayer for those who died in the conflict.
“A lot of us felt we had to do more and show Ukraine and show the world that the American people support Ukraine,” said Maryna Baydyuk, president of United Help Ukraine, one of the groups that have organized the rally.
Ms Baydyuk, an assistant research professor of biology at Georgetown University, who was born in Kyiv and came to the United States in 1997, said her group was sending medical supplies to Ukraine for soldiers as well as home defense units formed from the civilian population and military veterans.
“We still hope that diplomacy will prevail and that we can avoid massive bloodshed in Ukraine. To be honest, at this point most of us are very scared that the invasion will happen,” Ms Baydyuk said, noting that her parents and sister in Kyiv have identified a bomb shelter where they can go. surrender and have planned to evacuate. if necessary.
Ms. Markarova, Ambassador of Ukraine, noted that the United States has increased its assistance to her country and said she hoped a diplomatic solution could be found to restore Ukrainian territorial integrity.
“If you’re talking about a country about to be attacked, of course we need more,” Ms Markarova said in an interview. “But we are very grateful for the support we are getting now.”
“We are now asking the United States and all our partners for all the defensive equipment and weapons they can provide us with,” Ms Markarova said. “We pray we never use it, but all of this will strengthen our offensive and defensive capabilities and also deter Russia by essentially showing that the cost of invasion will be too high for them.”
Ms Markarova said Russia’s territorial goals would also threaten Poland and the Baltic states.
“It’s a threat to anyone who has chosen to be democratic and free,” she said of Russia. “That’s why it’s so important that everyone who is free stands in solidarity with us. Because it won’t end with us, if they attack us.
Ms Yovanovitch, the former US ambassador, echoed those concerns that the crisis posed a broader threat to European security.
“I think it’s really important for the free world to stand with Ukraine because this Russian aggression against Ukraine, the build-up of troops and tanks at unprecedented levels, not only violates security of Ukraine, it is a threat to European security and it is a threat to the international world order,” Yavonovitch said in an interview.
Mr. Taylor, who served as acting ambassador after Ms. Yavonovitch was fired, said he was glad the Biden administration and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had remained united.
“I want to see them continue to stay strong,” Taylor said of the US and Ukrainian governments. “Keep sending weapons, increase the flow of weapons and the sophistication of weapons to make Ukraine militarily stronger, then to convince President Putin not to invade and to come to the negotiating table.”