“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.”
First Lady Jill Biden, during an unannounced visit to western Ukraine on Mother's Day.
may 10, 2022
- Dr. Biden's unannounced visit to Ukraine came over her four-day trip to Eastern Europe; on Friday and Saturday, she met with Ukrainian refugees and U.S. troops in Romania and Slovakia.
- Dr. Biden spent about two hours in western Ukraine (distanced from Russia's current primary military focus in eastern Ukraine), where she met Ukraine First Lady Olena Zelenska at a school which now houses about 160 refugees — nearly 50 of them children. This is the first time Ms. Zelenska has been seen in public since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
- Ms. Zelenska and Dr. Biden spoke privately before joining a group of children who were making Mother's Day gifts out of tissue paper. During their visit, Ms. Zelenska told Dr. Biden: "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."
- Also on Sunday, a school in eastern Ukraine that was sheltering about 90 people was bombed by Russia; dozens are feared to be dead.
Why It Matters: Dr. Biden's visit underscores the United States' support for Ukraine as she becomes the "highest-profile U.S. political figure" to visit the country since Russia's invasion. Her visit follows those of members of President Biden's cabinet (Sec. of Defense Lloyd Austin and Sec. of State Antony Blinken) as well as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA). Pres. Biden visited Poland in March, but has not traveled to Ukraine since the war began — likely due to security concerns.
In related news, on Friday the U.S. announced another $150 million in military aid to Ukraine: "... we will continue to support Ukraine’s defense of its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we will continue to fund humanitarian assistance for those in need. Ukraine won the battle for Kyiv and we will help Ukraine keep up the fight for as long as it takes," said Sec. of State Antony Blinken.
Jill Biden pays surprise visit to Ukraine, meets first lady (Associated Press)
Jill Biden's Secret Ukraine Trip (The New York Times)
$150 Million in Additional U.S. Military Assistance for Ukraine (U.S. Department of State)