UZHHOROD, Ukraine — First lady Jill Biden traveled into war-torn Ukraine Sunday, where she met with her Ukrainian counterpart in a Mother’s Day show of solidarity for women fleeing Russia’s invasion.
After crossing the Slovakian border, Biden traveled to the western city of Uzhhorod where she met Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady at a school.
“I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop, and this war has been brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.
Zelenska, who has not been seen in public since the invasion began, thanked Biden for what she called “a courageous act.”
“We understand what it takes for the U.S. first lady to come here during a war, where the military actions are taking place every day, where the air raid sirens are happening every day — even today,” she said, speaking through a translator.
“We all feel your support,” she added. “We all feel the leadership of the U.S president. But we would like to note that Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us. Because we also feel your love and support during such an important day.”
Biden’s unannounced travel into the country is highly unusual for a presidential spouse, and makes her the latest prominent official from her husband’s administration to visit Ukraine.
In a late night video Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned that Russia will likely ramp up its attacks over the weekend, leading into Monday — the nation’s Victory Day.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday that Russian President Vladimir Putin has “projected his desire” to use the celebrations to declare the defeat of Ukraine.
This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.
Christina Zhao contributed.