Oksana Markarova attends The New York Times DealBook DC policy forum on June 9, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Oksana Markarova attends The New York Times DealBook DC policy forum on June 9, 2022 in Washington, DC. Getty Images for the New York Times / Leigh Vogel

What Ukraine Needs: More Arms, Sanctions, and Money, Ambassador Says

The war-ravaged economy is providing the Kyiv government far less than the $5B per month it needs, Oksana Markarova said.

Ukraine needs more weapons, sanctions on Russia, and financial support to end the war as soon as possible, Ukraine’s ambassador to the U.S. said Thursday, as others warned that aid is flowing too slowly to help fight the intense artillery battles in the east.

“The goal is how to get more weapons, more sanctions, more support so that we can stop Russia faster. Because A: it’s going to be much more expensive the longer it goes for Ukraine in terms of lives and our economy and our peaceful life…but also more expensive for everyone who believes in democracy,” Oksana Markarova said during an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

The fighting in Ukraine’s southern and eastern regions is now an “artillery duel” in which  Russian forces are firing tens of thousands of shells daily, Markarova said. Ukraine needs more of the same: artillery, rocket launchers, and air support, she said.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced another security package for Ukraine worth $1 billion, including more howitzers, ammunition, and some months from now, a truck-launched variant of the Harpoon anti-ship system. The package brings the total value of delivered or promised assistance to $5.6 billion since the Feb. 24 invasion and $6.3 billion since the start of the Biden administration. 

Some experts say the U.S. is not sending enough weapons to Ukraine fast enough to counter Russian advances in the east.

Michael Vickers, the former defense undersecretary for intelligence, said the U.S. should vastly increase the flow of artillery and rocket systems to Ukraine. For example, the U.S. has promised just four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

“We have 400 of those systems,” Vickers said Thursday during a CSIS panel that followed Markarova’s talk. “Clearly, we can spare a hundred of those without great risk. Some of our partners have them as well.”

Ukraine also wants the world to impose more sanctions on Russia, both to punish Moscow for its actions but also to reduce its ability to keep fighting, Markarova said. Her requests include more sanctions on individuals who support the war, adding all Russian banks to the sanctions list instead of just a handful, and designating Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

While Ukraine is grateful for the billions of dollars in economic budgetary support that the U.S. has already provided, Markarova said, the country needs yet more after losing half its economy and tax revenue to the war, while trying to help citizens who are displaced or in areas with ongoing fighting. Ukraine has a “huge mismatch” between its revenue and needed spending, which is about $5 billion per month, she said. 

Markarova said Republican members of Congress who voted against Ukraine aid should understand that Vladimir Putin will not stop at her country if he wins.

“He attacked us twice. He is fighting this brutal war now,” she said. “It's existential for us, but it's also very important for all NATO members to help us to stop Putin while it’s still in Ukraine.”