Ukraine's envoy to U.S. urges harsh world response to Russian assault

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Ukrainian Finance Minister Oksana Markarova attends a parliament session in Kiev, Ukraine November 22, 2018. REUTERS/Valentyn Ogirenko/File Photo

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WASHINGTON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Ukraine's ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova said on Thursday that all Ukrainians would resist Russia's invasion of their country and called for a tough international response to the assault.

Ukraine's military was defending the country in accordance with international law, Markarova said at a news conference at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington after Russia launched its attack. read more

"The combat spirit of Ukrainian military is high," she said. "We are fighting, we will be fighting - not only our brave and motivated military but all Ukrainians."

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Ukrainian forces have downed two Russian helicopters and seven other Russian aircraft and destroyed several Russian trucks, and a platoon from Russia's 74th Motor Rifles Brigade has surrendered, she said.

Markarova cited earlier figures that Russian attacks had killed 40 Ukrainian servicemen and dozens of civilians and injured several dozed civilians.

She urged other countries to join Ukraine in cutting diplomatic ties with Russia and to impose sanctions and for international organizations to consider excluding Russia from their membership.

"Only our united steps can stop (Russian President) Vladimir Putin and Russian Federation from this attack on Ukraine, from this war, but also from attacking anyone else in the free world,” she said.

“We really hope these devastating sanctions will be appropriate for this moment and Russia will clearly feel that they cannot wage war on an independent sovereign country, because the future of the world order depends on this," she added.

The United States was expected to impose new sanctions on Thursday, after a first round of sanctions on Tuesday in response to Russia recognizing two breakaway Ukrainian provinces. read more

Ukraine is not a member of the NATO alliance, but has been receiving military aid and training from Western countries.

“We do not expect anyone to fight for us, but we expect all the help and all the response the West can send to us,” Markarova said while adding Ukraine was requesting, and would appreciate, peacekeeping operations.

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Reporting by Jonathan Landay and Simon Lewis; additional reporting by Kanishka Singh; Editing by Howard Goller

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