First Lady Jill Biden paid an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Sunday, meeting with Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska.
Biden entered Ukraine in Uzhhorod, visiting a school that serves as temporary accommodation and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children.
“I wanted to come to Mother’s Day. I thought it was important to show the people of Ukraine that this war must end, that this war has been brutal, and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.
President Joe Biden will meet virtually with Group of 7 leaders on Sunday morning to discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine and potential new sanctions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will also attend the meeting, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said. The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States
The meeting takes place the day before Russia will celebrate its Victory Day, the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat by Nazi Germany.
Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the VE Day holiday to make an announcement about the war in Ukraine, either declaring victory or escalating the conflict.
USA TODAY ON TELEGRAM: Join our Russia-Ukraine War Channel to get updates straight to your phone
►Nearly 7,000 civilians have been killed or injured since the start of the war in Ukraine in February, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
►Ukrainian forces have made gains against Russian forces and may be able to push them out of Kharkiv’s artillery range in the coming days, the Institute for the Study of Warfare said in an assessment
►The latest US military aid package is worth an additional $150 million, President Joe Biden has announced.
Jill Biden visits a Ukrainian school and meets the first lady of Ukraine
First lady Jill Biden made an unannounced trip to Ukraine on Sunday, entering an active war zone where she met with her Ukrainian counterpart.
Biden met Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first lady, during a visit to a public school in Uzhhorod, which serves as temporary accommodation and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children.
It is the first time Zelenska has appeared in public since Russia invaded the country on February 24.
Zelenska thanked Biden for the visit, “because we understand what it takes for America’s first lady to come here during a war where military actions happen every day, where air sirens happen every day, even today”.
“We all feel your support and we all feel the leadership of the President of the United States, but we would like to emphasize that Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel your love and support on such an important day” , said the first lady of Ukraine said.
Biden and Zelenska met privately for an hour. The first lady spent just under two hours in Ukraine before crossing the border into Slovakia.
– Rebecca Morin
Russia’s war in Ukraine explained:Evacuations, accusations and denials: the key events of the Russian war in Ukraine in 5 graphics
Russia’s “fire hose of lies”
In this war, Russia invokes World War II and Nazism to smear Ukrainian leaders, including attacks on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov recently fanned those flames when he raised the unproven claim that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry. Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, accused Russia of spreading anti-Semitic tropes.
“Right now sometimes Russian propaganda even equates Nazis with Western civilization,” said Shirikov, who specializes in propaganda and disinformation.
The Russian propaganda machine is a “fire hose of lies” whose primary target audience is Russians themselves, said Christopher Paul, senior social scientist at RAND Corp., a global policy think tank. based in Santa Monica, California.
Learn more here about propaganda used in wartime.
School shelter bombed, 60 presumed dead
A Ukrainian official has accused the Russians of dropping an “air bomb” on a school where around 90 residents of the village of Bilohorivka were taking refuge.
Serhiy Haidai, the regional governor of Luhansk, said in a Facebook post that 30 of those hiding there had been rescued so far.
“Most likely the 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Governor Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Russian shelling also killed two boys, aged 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, he said.
Haidai said “almost the whole village was hidden. Everyone who didn’t have time to evacuate.”
Zelenskyy hopes to evacuate wounded and servicemen from steel plant
Now that evacuations have succeeded in removing all women, children and the elderly from the Azovstol steel plant in Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelensky said another mission will attempt to rescue the injured and medics.
Zelenskyy also said in his nightly video address to the nation on Saturday evening that the effort to also evacuate the remaining Ukrainian soldiers, the “heroes who defended Mariupol”, would be “difficult”.
Iryna Vereshchuk, Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, announced on Saturday that the evacuations of vulnerable citizens had taken place from the steelworks, where Ukrainian civilians and troops were the last to resist Russian forces. More than 300 people have been evacuated in recent days, Zelenskyy said, after conditions in underground bunkers grew increasingly worse and Russia stepped up its bombardment.
Russia prepares for Victory Day parade
Russia on Saturday held a dress rehearsal for the military parade commemorating Victory Day on May 9, when the country marks the defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II.
In Moscow on Saturday, an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile ripped through Red Square as part of the rehearsal, with warplanes and helicopters flying overhead, troops marching in formation and self-propelled artillery vehicles rumbling.
Contributor: The Associated Press