ICYMI: McConnell Welcomes Ukrainian Amb. Markarova To University of Louisville
Louisville, KY – U.S. Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) delivered the following introduction today at the University of Louisville for the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States; Oksana Markarova. The following are the Senator’s remarks prepared for delivery:
“Today’s distinguished guest joins us at an especially critical moment in the history of our two countries.
“Since last February, the people of Ukraine have mounted an inspiring resistance to Vladimir Putin’s brutal escalation. Right now, brave Ukrainians are giving their lives to beat back the invasion and restore their country’s sovereignty.
“They are fighting for the basic right to live in peace in their homes. As the barbaric terrorist attacks of October 7th against Israel remind us, this threat is not unique to Ukraine. Israel has faced this threat for decades. And as President Zelensky has made clear, Israel’s cause resonates in the hearts of Ukrainians.
“Russian aggression and Iran-backed terrorism are clear examples of the evil in the world that seeks to do us harm. Our special guest today, the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova, knows this firsthand.
“Over the past twenty months, the Ambassador and I have worked closely together. And for even longer, I’ve been proud to stand with her country. Not out of altruism, but because it’s clear to me that the threats facing America’s friends today are facing us, too. And because the freedoms we hold dearly must be constantly defended.
“Right now, loud voices on both sides of the aisle are suggesting that American leadership isn’t worth the cost. Some say our support for Ukraine comes at the expense of more important priorities. But as I’ve said every time I get the chance, this is a false choice.
“America is a global superpower with global interests. And enemies of democracy around the world would like nothing more than to outlast our resolve to resist Russian aggression.
“Let’s remember what’s at stake here: Russian victory in Ukraine would imperil the security and economy of Europe, our largest trading partner and strategic ally since World War II, and endanger the engine of our own economic growth at home.
“If Russia prevails, there’s no question that Putin’s appetite for empire will extend to NATO, raising the threat to the U.S. transatlantic alliance and the risk of war for America. Such an outcome would demand greater permanent deployment of our military force in Europe, a much greater cost than the support we have provided to Ukraine.
“And of course, Russian victory would embolden Putin’s growing alliance with fellow authoritarian regimes in Iran and China.
“So this is not just a test for Ukraine. It’s a test for the United States and the free world.
“And the path toward greater security for all of us is simple: Help Ukraine win the war.
“That’s exactly what I’ve been trying to do since before Russian troops surged toward Kyiv last February.
“Back in 2021, I repeatedly urged President Biden to give Ukraine more tools to deter Putin’s escalation in the first place.
“As the Russian army gathered at the border and invasion looked imminent, I pushed the Administration to speed up shipments of essential weapons like Javelin, Stinger, and Harpoon missiles.
“And at every step of the conflict, I’ve advocated for putting critical capabilities like HIMARS, cluster munitions, tanks, F-16s, and ATACMs in Ukrainian hands in time to make a difference on the battlefield.
“And I’ve spelled out how investments in Ukraine’s defense are really also investments in replenishing and modernizing America’s defense arsenal… creating thousands of good-paying American jobs in defense manufacturing… and driving historic investments in communities across the country.
“Right now, our efforts are making a difference – both in Ukraine and here at home. But the Biden Administration’s hesitation along the way has only prolonged the bloodshed in Ukraine.
“This is a moment for swift and decisive action – to prevent further loss of life, and to impose real consequences on the tyrants who have terrorized the people of Ukraine and Israel. And right now, the Senate has a chance to produce supplemental assistance that will help us do exactly that.
“Enemies abroad will be watching closely and waiting for America to falter. Only our concrete and credible support can deter our adversaries in the future and restore security.
“Now, for those of us who are committed to this effort and to American leadership, there’s been no greater partner than Ambassador Oksana Markarova. Early on in our work together, I learned what today’s audience will soon discover: that she is whip-smart, a gifted communicator, and a true patriot.
“After receiving her formal education in Ukraine, she earned a Masters in Public Finance at Indiana University. Following 17 years of success in investment banking, she answered what she described as her 'call to action' and entered public service.
“As Finance Minister, she helped author Ukraine’s macroeconomic revival program, and worked to privatize state-owned banks, reduce the budget deficit, and bring greater transparency to public finances. She knows first-hand Ukraine’s struggles to combat corruption, a problem that is more prevalent than we often care to admit in many countries, including our own.
“In 2021, she was tapped as Ambassador to the United States in Washington, D.C., and in short order became a wartime diplomat.
“With thousands of Ukrainians killed on the front line and millions forced to flee their homes, Ambassador Markarova can’t afford to stay under the radar.
“Since the onset of the war, she has been a visible and vocal advocate for her country’s needs and has effectively countered skepticism about what’s at stake in Ukraine’s fight.
“The Ambassador has made a point to extend her visits beyond the Beltway and across the political spectrum. Like today’s visit to Louisville, or her recent visit to Ohio, where she toured a facility that manufactures Strykers and Abrams tanks to support Ukraine’s counteroffensive.
“She certainly has a lot on her plate, and I am very grateful that she has taken the time to speak with us today.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it is my distinct pleasure to present the Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States, Ambassador Oksana Markarova.”