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First Lady Jill Biden spends Mother’s Day weekend in Ukraine, meets first lady and refugees

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First Lady Dr. Jill Biden spent Mother’s Day weekend on the Ukraine-Slovakia border this year, visiting with Ukrainian refugee women and holding a surprise meeting with First Lady Olena Zelenska.

“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” the U.S. first lady told Zelenska. “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.”

The two first ladies greeted each other in a small classroom in front of reporters and later met in private. Zelenska thanked Biden for her “courageous act” and said, “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.”

The First Lady is scheduled to meet with United States troops stationed along the Romanian and Slovakian borders during her visit. 

Both Romania and Slovakia, neighbors to Ukraine, have taken in thousands of Ukrainian refugees since the start of the Russian invasion in February. Biden visited the United States embassy in Romania on Saturday. According to the embassy, about 7,000 Ukrainian refugees cross the border every day since Russia attacked.

Biden also met with Romanian First Lady Carmen Iohannis at her private residence over lunch to discuss the ongoing refugee crisis. The two share a common bond as first ladies who kept their jobs teaching English even after their husbands took office. Biden holds a doctorate in education and teaches at Northern Virginia Community College, where she has worked since 2009.

This is Jill Biden’s most high-profile trip to date in her tenure as First Lady of the United States. She previously traveled to Tokyo to represent the United States in the 2020 Olympics, which took place in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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