First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine

Washington— The First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, took a surprise trip to Ukraine on Sunday, I meet Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska and visit Ukrainian children who have been displaced by the ongoing war with Russia.

Biden, who embarked on his trip to Eastern Europe on Thursday, crossed the border from Slovakia into southwest Ukraine on Sunday afternoon for the unannounced visit to a public school in Uzhhorod that has been converted into a temporary shelter housing 163 Ukrainians, including 47 children. It was a rare visit by a US first lady to a war zone.

The first lady was greeted by Zelenska, who has not been seen in public since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, according to a US official. The official said the two women had exchanged correspondence in recent weeks.

“I wanted to come for Mother’s Day,” Biden told reporters traveling with her. “We thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop, and this war was brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”

Zelenska called Biden’s visit a “very brave act”.

Russia Ukraine Jill Biden War
First Lady Jill Biden greets Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, outside a public school in Uzhhorod, Ukraine, on Sunday, May 8, 2022.

Susan Walsh/AP


“Because we understand what it takes for the US First Lady to come here during a war, when military actions happen every day, where sirens are going every day, even today,” she said. “We all feel her support and we all feel the leadership of the President of the USA, but we would like to note that Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel her love and support during such an important day.”

Biden and Zelenska held a private bilateral meeting for about 30 minutes, after which they met with Ukrainians who were displaced from their homes and children who were making cardboard and tissue paper bears for their mothers.

The first lady returned to Slovakia after spending about two hours in Ukraine and spoke with President Biden after her visit, according to Michael LaRosa, Biden’s press secretary.

LaRosa said Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, gave Biden a letter from Zelenska at the State of the Union in March, and Ukraine’s first lady sent another letter last month expressing concerns about the toll of the health war. mental health of children, troops and families.

Biden joins a growing number of senior US officials who have made secret visits to Ukraine in recent weeks. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to the capital of Kiev in April, and a delegation of House Democrats led by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi took a secret trip to the capital last week and met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Biden did not travel to Ukraine, although he did visit Eastern Europe in March.

Biden’s unannounced stop in Ukraine is the first by the wife of an incumbent president to a war zone since Laura Bush visited Afghanistan in 2008. The former first lady also visited Afghanistan in 2005. Michelle Obama in 2015 traveled to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, which has been designated a combat zone since 1991, to meet with troops.

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