US First Lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Sunday, her spokesman said, meeting her Ukrainian counterpart Olena Zelenska at a school sheltering civilians including children displaced by the conflict.
“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day. 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 told reporters.
A US official on the visit also said it was Zelenska’s first public appearance since Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24.
Zelenska thanked Biden “for this very courageous act”.
“Because we understand what it takes for the US First Lady to come here during a war when the military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day even today,” she told Biden.
Zelenska stressed the symbolism of Biden’s Mothering Sunday visit.
“We also feel your love and support during such an important day,” the Ukrainian First Lady said.
Following a meeting behind closed doors, the first ladies joined local children in a classroom crafting cardboard and tissue paper bears as presents for their mothers.
Biden and Zelenska both crafted their own bear, using white and yellow tissue paper.
After the unannounced visit to Ukraine, Jill Biden returned to Slovakia.