Jill Biden, the first lady, traveled to western Ukraine in an unannounced trip on Sunday, the latest show of support from the United States, which has significantly increased military aid for Ukraine in recent weeks.
Dr. Biden met Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, at a school in Uzhhorod, a town of 100,000 people a few miles from the border with Slovakia. The town’s population has doubled in recent weeks with the arrival of people fleeing fighting elsewhere in the country.
Ms. Zelenska, the wife of President Volodymyr Zelensky, has not been seen in public since Russia’s invasion began on Feb. 24. She and Dr. Biden embraced outside the school, which has been converted to a temporary shelter for fleeing families, and Dr. Biden gave her a bouquet.
In a small room afterward, the two women briefly addressed reporters, with Ms. Zelenska thanking Dr. Biden for her “courageous” visit.
The two women met privately for roughly an hour on Sunday before joining a group of children for a crafting project. In a sign of the delicate nature of the visit, a security agent passed a hand-held metal detector over a child who had entered the classroom just before the first ladies. Dr. Biden spent about two hours in Ukraine before crossing back into Slovakia.
Russia-Ukraine War: Key Developments
Jill Biden’s visit. The first lady traveled to western Ukraine in , the latest show of support from the United States, which has significantly increased military aid for Ukraine in recent weeks. Dr. Biden met with Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska.
The visit made Dr. Biden the latest high-profile person close to President Biden to travel to Ukraine. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III visited Kyiv, the capital, last month, and Speaker Nancy Pelosi met with Mr. Zelensky there last week. The details of both trips were shrouded in secrecy because of security concerns.
Mr. Biden traveled to Poland for three days at the end of March. While he visited troops near the border with Ukraine, he stopped short of entering the country because of security concerns.
Earlier on Sunday, Dr. Biden met with refugee families at an emergency aid center in Kosice, Slovakia. On Saturday, she visited the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest, Romania, and met with humanitarian workers who briefed her on their efforts to assist Ukrainians.