Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, urged Americans to continue to support her country in its war against Russia during a talk Oct. 30 at the McConnell Center at the University of Louisville.
“It’s a win-win for all of us,” she said during an hour-long program in Chao Auditorium that was also live streamed.
“This new Hitler has to be stopped while we can still stop him in Ukraine,” Markarova said. “Otherwise, this conflict will widen and all of us will have to fight.”
Markarova was the latest world figure to come to the McConnell Center as part of its Distinguished Speakers Series, celebrating its 30th year in 2023.
During that time, more than 60 leaders, beginning with former Secretary of State George P. Schultz, have given talks at the center, said Gary L. Gregg, director of the McConnell Center.
The speakers also meet with the university’s McConnell Scholars. “I know that the students here really want to make a difference,” Markarova said, praising the students for their insightful questions.
McConnell introduced Markarova at what he said was “an especially critical moment in the history of our two countries.”
Markarova repeatedly thanked the United States for its support, especially in the 20 months since Russia invaded Ukraine. She compared Russian aggression with the Hamas attacks on Israel that took place Oct. 7. “We are dealing with the same evil and enemy,” she said.
In her remarks before Markarova’s talk, UofL President Kim Schatzel noted that the McConnell Center has since 1991 been teaching students to be “valued citizens and future leaders.”
The program concluded with an exchange of gifts — a bottle of Old Forester Single Barrel bourbon from UofL to Markarova, and a Ukrainian flag from Markarova to UofL signed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy with the message “Ukraine is brave.”
Of the bourbon, Markarova said, “We’ll keep it at the embassy and we’ll drink it when we win.”