Ukraine Says Nation Does Not Want War With Russia, but Will Defend Itself

Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova said on Thursday that the nation does not want to go to war with Russia, but noted that "we will defend our country if we have to."

During an appearance on CNN's New Day, Markarova was asked if she had any message to send to Russian President Vladimir Putin amid the growing tensions between the two nations.

"Probably not to Vladimir Putin, because we do not expect anything from Vladimir Putin but to the Russian People, that Ukrainians have been under occupation for so many centuries by [the] Soviet Union, Russian Empire...and we will not be under we will not be under occupation by [the] Russian Federation. All we want to do is live peacefully in our own country," Markarova said in response. "We don't want to fight with Russians, but we will defend our country if we have to."

The comments by Markarova come as Russia has continued to increase its military presence on the Ukrainian border, prompting fears of an impending conflict to increase. Putin has demanded that Ukraine should be denied membership from NATO, but other leaders in the West, such as U.S. President Joe Biden have said that NATO will sanction Russia if they do invade Ukraine.

While speaking to reporters on Thursday morning, Biden said that the chances Russia will invade Ukraine is "very high," adding that he believes Russia could invade "within the next several days."

Biden also noted that Russia has yet to withdraw any troops from the Ukrainian border. "We have reason to believe they are engaged in a false flag operation. Every indication we have is they're prepared to go into Ukraine to attack Ukraine," Biden said.

Earlier this week, Putin said that some troops were being pulled back from the Ukrainian border, and noted, "We want to resolve this issue now, right now or in the near future, through negotiations, peaceful means."

Shortly after Putin's remarks, both the U.S. and Ukraine speculated that Russia was not withdrawing any troops.

"On Russian statements regarding withdrawal of some forces from the Ukrainian border. We in Ukraine have a rule: we don't believe what we hear, we believe what we see. If a real withdrawal follows these statements, we will believe in the beginning of a real de-escalation," Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

The Associated Press, citing a senior White House official, reported that Russia recently added to its military presence near Ukraine.

Newsweek reached out to the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

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The Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said on Thursday that the nation does not war with Russia but will defend itself, if necessary. Above, this picture taken on February 17, shows an Ukrainian flag in a NATO meeting room at the NATO headquarters in Brussels. Kenzo Tribouillard/Getty