Jill Biden makes a surprise visit to Ukraine to meet with the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky

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The first lady of the United States visits Ukraine on Mother’s Day and presents a bouquet of flowers to Olena Zelenska, wife of the Ukrainian president

Photo: SUSAN WALSH/AP/PICTURE ALLIANCE/Deutsche Welle

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day. I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to end and that it has been brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,” Biden told reporters. Jill Biden met the Ukrainian first lady at a school in Uzhhorod, a city of 100,000 inhabitants a few kilometers from the border with Slovakia.

Biden and Zelenska embraced, after which the American handed her a bouquet of flowers before a private meeting inside the school, which has been converted into a temporary shelter for families fleeing the war. The population of that Ukrainian town has tripled since the start of the fighting due to internally displaced people fleeing the conflict.

Olena Zelenska, wife of the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, had not been seen in public for security reasons since the beginning of the Russian invasion on February 24. The two women addressed reporters after the meeting, with Zelenska thanking Jill Biden for her “courageous” visit to Ukraine.

Jill Biden met with Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia

“We understand the courage it takes for the first lady of the United States to come here during a war, with war operations every day, with the air sirens being heard every day, even today,” said the hostess of the meeting. Jill Biden visited that school to show her support for Ukraine, coinciding with a Russian attack on a school in the east of the country that is feared to have left dozens dead.

Initially, Jill Biden was only going to go to a border crossing between Slovakia and Ukraine, but officials from Ukraine and the US gave the green light to cross the border, evaluating the situation as safe. Before crossing the border, Jill Biden met with refugee families at an emergency aid center in Kosice, in eastern Slovakia.

This is the last visit to Ukraine by senior US officials in recent weeks, after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

jov (ef, spiegel)

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