While Russia continues its ruthless campaign in the eastern territories, Jill Biden paid a surprise visit to western Ukraine on Sunday, where she met with first lady Olena Zelenska to mark the occasion of Mother’s Day.
The president of the United States kept his identity a secret even as he visited Ukraine during a battle that had been raging for more than 10 weeks.
In an interview with Zelenska, the First Lady of the United States said, “I wanted to come on Mother’s Day.” This war must come to an end; it has been horrendous, and Americans stand with the people of Ukraine; therefore, I felt it was vital to express this to the Ukrainian people.”
Biden traveled by car to the Ukrainian village of Uzhorod, which is just a 10-minute drive from a Slovakian community on the border, a journey that took over two hours.
Before their private encounter, the first ladies convened in a small classroom, where they sat across from one another at a table and exchanged greetings in front of members of the media. Zelenska and her children have been transported to an undisclosed place to ensure their security.
As Zelenska expressed gratitude to Biden for her “courageous act,” she added, “We understand what it takes for the First Lady of the United States of America to come here during a war where military engagements are taking place every day, where air sirens are sounding every day — even now.”
In the former school where they first met, Ukrainian migrants from various sections of the country are now residing in temporary lodgings.
The trip provided Biden with the opportunity to put into practice the kind of personal diplomacy that her husband intends to pursue in the future.
On a visit to Poland earlier this year, President Joe Biden voiced his sorrow that he had been unable to travel to Ukraine to view the situation “in person,” but that he had been prevented from doing so due to security concerns. President Joe Biden “would love to visit,” according to White House officials, who also stated that there were currently no plans for him to do so last week.
Officials from the United States, who declined to provide further details because they were not permitted to discuss the first ladies’ private communications, said the encounter was prompted by letters exchanged between the two first ladies in recent weeks.
As Zelenska came to the school, Jill Biden, who was dressed in a Mother’s Day corsage that her husband had given her, embraced her and gave her a bouquet that her husband had given her.
After their private encounter, the two were assisted by a group of youngsters in the creation of tissue-paper bears, which they would give to mothers as Mother’s Day gifts.
Speaker Nancy Pelosi of the House of Representatives and other members of Congress, as well as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, have all recently paid visits to Ukraine, and President Joe Biden will join them in the coming weeks.
Her visit to Ukraine was limited to the western regions, thanks to Russia’s military involvement in the country’s eastern regions, which ensured her safety.
Already, she had traveled to Vysne Nemecke, a Slovak border settlement, to see how the United Nations and other humanitarian organizations were assisting Ukrainians who were fleeing the violence. As President Joe Biden sat in on a religious ritual in a tent that had been turned into a chapel, a priest stated, “We pray for the people of Ukraine.”
Before that, Biden visited Kosice, Slovakia, where he spoke with and offered support to Ukrainian mothers who had been displaced by Russia’s war. To know that “the hearts of the American people” were behind them was a source of consolation for the group.
President Joe Biden found himself amid an extended conversation with a war-torn mother from Ukraine at the bus station, which also serves as the city’s 24-hour refugee processing center.
Victorie Kutocha, a teacher, informed President Biden that she was unable to express herself because she did not know herself.
Kutocha posed the question, “Why?” at one point throughout the game. It was implied that Russia’s decision to invade Ukraine on February 24 was being revealed at the time.
“It’s quite tough to fathom,” the first lady expressed her frustration.
As reported by the White House, the facility is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is one of six refugee facilities in Slovakia that provide daily food, baths, clothing, emergency on-site accommodation, and other services to an average of 300 to 350 people.
Biden also paid a visit to a public school in Slovakia that has taken in children from neighboring countries who have been displaced.
A Mother’s Day event brought together the children of Slovakian and Ukrainian mothers at the school, where they worked together to create crafts that they could give to their moms as gifts.
Biden greeted the women and their children at each table he visited. The women had been assured by her that “the hearts of the American people” were with the mothers of Ukraine, and she wished to demonstrate this to them.
Just before arriving at Vysne Nemecke, she stated, “I just wanted to come and show our support to you and your family.”
Since Russia’s invasion on February 24, the number of border crossings has decreased to less than 2,000 per day, with a significant portion of that flow consisting of daily cross-border trade.
Throughout World War II, Eleanor Roosevelt traveled to various locations across the world to cheer up the troops. According to the National First Ladies Library, Pat Nixon made history by accompanying President Nixon on a trip to South Vietnam in 1969, marking the first time a first lady had visited a war zone in the United States. She was escorted by Secret Service agents as she took off in an open chopper from Saigon, which was 18 miles away.
When Hillary Clinton traveled to Bosnia in 1996, she came to a temporary halt in the middle of a war zone. Laura Bush traveled to Kabul in 2005, and Melania Trump traveled to Iraq with President Trump in December 2018, four years after the September 11th terrorist attacks in the United States.
President Joe Biden is on a four-day trip to Eastern Europe, where he is emphasizing the United States’ commitment to Ukrainian refugees and the countries that are hosting them, such as Romania and Slovakia.
The meeting took place over two days on Friday and Saturday in Romania, where she met with U.S. troops as well as Ukrainian refugee mothers and children.
Before her time in office, several American first ladies have also been to war or conflict zones throughout their tenures in office.