Updated May 8, 2022 - World

Jill Biden makes surprise visit to Ukraine, meets first lady

First lady Jill Biden (L) receives flowers from Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska on May 8 outside of a public school that has taken in displaced students in Uzhhorod. Photo: Susan Walsh/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

First lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit into Ukraine on Mother’s Day to meet with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska.

The big picture: The first lady's surprise visit to the western city of Uzhhorod occurred after she met with refugees and volunteers at the Slovakia border crossing as part of her four-day trip to Eastern Europe.

  • The first ladies have exchanged correspondences over the past couple of weeks, according to the first lady's press pool.
  • Biden met Zelenska at a public school, which is being used as temporary housing and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children, per the pool.

What they're saying: “I wanted to come on Mother’s Day," Biden said. "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 of all, I would like to thank you for a very courageous act,” Zelenska said, according to an interpreter. “Because we understand what it takes for the U.S. 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.”
  • “We all feel your support and we all feel the leadership of the U.S. president but we would like to note that the Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us, because we also feel your love and support during such an important day,” she said.

Of note: This is the first time Zelenska has been seen in public since the unprovoked Russian invasion began on Feb. 24, a U.S. official told the press pool.

Go deeper ... In photos: Jill Biden hears "heartbreaking" stories from Ukrainian refugees

Editor's note: This is a developing story. Please check back for additional details.

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