Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine, holding a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with first lady Olena Zelenska to show U.S. support for the people of Ukraine, ABC News reports.
She became the latest high-profile American to enter Ukraine during the special military operation while Zelenska’s public appearance was her first since the conflict.
“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” the U.S. first lady told Zelenska. “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 spent about two hours in Ukraine, traveling by vehicle to the town of Uzhhorod, about a 10-minute drive from a Slovakian border village where she had toured a border processing facility.
Zelenska thanked Biden for her “courageous act” and said, “We understand what it takes for the U.S. first lady to come here during a war when military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day — even today.”
The first ladies met at a school being used to temporarily house Ukrainian migrants. Zelenska arrived first and waited in her black SUV until Biden arrived in similar fashion. The women stepped out of their vehicles and embraced, with Biden – who wore a wrist corsage for Mother’s Day – handing over a bouquet of flowers before they entered the school.
The women came together in a small classroom, sitting on either side of a wooden table and greeting each other in front of reporters before they met in private. Zelenska and her two children have been staying at an undisclosed location for their safety.
The visit allowed Biden to conduct the kind of personal diplomacy that her husband would like to do himself.