In a school converted into temporary housing for displaced citizens, Biden met with Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska, who has not appeared in public since the war began on February 24.
“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” Biden told her Ukrainian counterpart, as the two women sat at a small table in a classroom at a former school that is now a source of temporary housing for homeless Ukrainians, including 48 children. “We thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war had to stop. And this war was brutal.” “The people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,” Biden added.
US officials told CNN that Zelenska, who sent a letter to Biden early in the Russian invasion, had exchanged correspondence with her US counterpart in recent weeks.
“First of all, I want to thank you for the very brave act,” Zelenska said, speaking through an interpreter to Biden. “Because we understand what it takes for an American first lady to come here during a war when military action happens every day, sirens go off every day, even today. We all feel your support and we all feel the leadership of the American president but we would like to point out that Mother’s Day is a day Very symbolic for us as we also feel your love and support during such an important day.”
The meeting of the two women included a closed bilateral session that lasted about an hour and was held in what was a school before the war. The building has been converted into a shelter, in cooperation between the Government of Ukraine and the International Organization for Migration, the United Nations migration agency. Dozens of internally displaced persons now live in the building, which is located on leafy land near downtown Uzhhorod.
The first lady has spent the past two days in Europe meeting with humanitarian aid organizations and government officials in both Romania and Slovakia, as well as interacting with displaced Ukrainians in both countries, primarily focusing on the health and emotional well-being of women and children.
Biden’s visit to Ukraine is the first time a first lady of the United States has visited a war zone since Laura Bush made a secret 10-hour visit to Afghanistan in 2008. Bush made her first visit to that country, an active combat zone, in 2005 About her concern and support for Afghan women.
As a second woman in 2010, Jill Biden accompanied then Vice President Joe Biden on a trip to Baghdad, Iraq, during the July 4 recess.
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