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Ukrainian veterans lobby Congress for continued support on the battlefield

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

Hundreds of Ukrainian Americans were in Washington, D.C., this week to try and convince congressional leaders to continue arming Ukraine in its war against Russia. Their visit comes at a crucial time. President Biden wants to combine funding for Ukraine with funding for Israel as that nation continues to battle Hamas. And at the same time, further funding for Ukraine is at the heart of the battle for the House leadership contest. Now, a number of Ukrainian veterans are also asking for continued support on the battlefield. One of them is Andriana Susak-Arekhta. She's a senior sergeant in the Ukrainian Armed forces and head of the Ukrainian Women Veteran Movement. She was injured near the front line in Kherson late last year, and she joins us now. Andriana, you've been speaking with people on the hill this week. Given the Israel-Gaza war and the House leadership contest, what was your pitch for continued support for Ukraine?

ANDRIANA SUSAK-AREKHTA: Good morning, United States. My speech was about that Ukrainian government and Ukrainians are grateful and thankful for support. But the war is going on, and we saw that the evil that we are faced have the same name like Russia, Hamas, Iran. And so the counteroffensive is going on in Ukraine, and the - Russia has an endless amount of troops and an endless amount of ammunition, and delaying of supporting to Ukraine means a lot of loss. And I was, for example, it was a privilege to meet yesterday Air Force CQ - Charles Q. Brown. And I just ask him what will United States do when Ukrainian armed forces will be without soldiers? When we are out, who will protect freedom and liberty and stability of Europe and the West without Ukrainian armed forces?

MARTÍNEZ: Are you worried at all that with so much else going on that Ukraine will be not remembered or not thought of as much right now?

SUSAK-AREKHTA: Yes. I'm worried about because, for example, now we need air superiority. We need ammunition superiority. We ask for long-range cruise missiles to hit logistical warestore (ph) out, to hit ammunitional (ph) warestore of Russia. And I'm worried because I saw that this coalition between tyrannium (ph) states like North Korea, Iran and Russia, Hamas, this means that today, the world face with the evil that's united, and we need this support from United States not because we just want this support, but because...

MARTÍNEZ: Yeah.

SUSAK-AREKHTA: ...We want to save people's lives and to save civilians.

MARTÍNEZ: What do you think about President Biden combining the funding for Ukraine with funding for Israel and Taiwan?

SUSAK-AREKHTA: As a soldier, I can say, and as Ukrainian, as a mom, I can say that I know what this war is. And I see, like, this sign in Israel as we faced and see this sign in Ukraine every day, because, for example, in Ukraine, there is no safe place because the aviation missiles, the cruise missiles are flying everywhere in Ukraine. And it's OK that we have - that the United States can help not only Ukraine but also Israel and Taiwan.

MARTÍNEZ: In about 20 seconds, can you just make one case why Americans should continue to care about Ukraine?

SUSAK-AREKHTA: I think that we, together, are in the boat against evil. I think that we, together, must save liberty, save freedom. And I think that now we are on the battlefield, but only with your support.

MARTÍNEZ: Andriana Susak-Arekhta is the head of the organization Ukrainian Women Veteran Movement. Thank you very much.

SUSAK-AREKHTA: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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