First Ladies Meet in Ukraine

Jill Biden makes unannounced visit, as does Canada's Trudeau
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 8, 2022 12:40 PM CDT
Jill Biden Visits Ukraine
An image provided by the Irpin mayor's office shows Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, second from right, speaking Sunday with Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn, center wearing a T-shirt, in Irpin, Ukraine.   (Irpin Mayor's Office via AP)

(Newser) – Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine on Sunday, holding a surprise Mother's Day meeting with first lady Olena Zelenska to show US support for the embattled nation trying to fight off the Russia invasion. Biden traveled under the cloak of secrecy, the AP reports, becoming the latest high-profile American to enter Ukraine during the war. She spent Friday and Saturday in Romania. "I wanted to come on Mother's Day," the US first lady told Zelenska on Sunday. "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 10 minutes from a Slovakian border village where she had toured a border processing facility. The wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked Biden for her "courageous act" and said, “We understand what it takes for the US 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 two first ladies came together in a small classroom before they met in private. Zelenska and her children have been at an undisclosed location for their safety. The school where they met has been turned into transitional housing for Ukrainian migrants from elsewhere in the country.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Sunday. "He came to Irpin to see with his own eyes all the horror that the Russian occupiers had done to our city," the mayor of Irpin posted on Telegram. Ukraine regained control of the Kyiv suburb in late March from Russian troops who had tried to reach the capital, per Axios. Mayor Olexander Markushyn wrote that the destruction shocked Trudeau. "After all, he saw burned and completely destroyed not military facilities, but the homes of Irpin residents, who until recently enjoyed life and had their own plans for the future," Markushyn said. Trudeau's spokesperson said the prime minister planned to meet with Zelensky, per the Independent. (Read more Jill Biden stories.)

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