Jan 30, 2022 - World

Ukraine's envoy to Washington says "there is no friction" with U.S.

Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova sought to minimize reports of tensions between Washington and Kyiv and batted away suggestions that her government is "downplaying the risk" of a Russian invasion during an appearance Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

Why it matters: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's rhetoric on the possibility of a Russian invasion has contrasted starkly at times with that of the U.S. and other allies.

State of play: President Biden has made clear that he believes a Russian invasion could be likely. But during a phone call with Biden last week, Zelensky pushed back against the U.S. assessment of an "imminent" threat.

  • Zelensky did so again during a press conference with foreign reporters on Friday, noting, "we don't need this panic."

The big picture: Asked by host Margaret Brennan why Zelenksy is "downplaying the risk" of invasion, Markarova replied, "We're not downplaying the risk."

  • "We actually see the situation the same way and we see the build-up and we also know what Russia is capable of, because they have attacked us already ...a t the same time, in order to defend our country, we cannot afford to panic."
  • "There is no friction," Markarova said, adding that "we can have some discussions and we can have difference of opinions. But the United States is our strategic partner, and I would even say strategic friend."
  • She added that U.S.-Ukraine relations over the past year have been at their "highest level" in three decades.

What they're saying: "With the United States, especially and with other partners and allies, we may have difference of opinions on when to introduce sanctions, we may have difference of opinions on some issues, but those are friendly, open and candid discussions," Markarova said.

  • Asked about a letter sent by the chairman of Ukraine's parliament to eight U.S. senators outlining specific requests for assistance and whether the White House's commitments were "not sufficient," Markarova countered that these issues were part of the discussions between Biden and Zelensky.
  • "We are merely discussing what we already agreed with the United States, and we are discussing how to implement it."
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