Jill Biden visits Ukraine on her first solo trip to a combat zone as First Lady

First Lady Jill Biden and Olena Zelenska

Jill Biden visits Ukraine on her first solo trip to a combat zone as First Lady.

First Lady Jill Biden visited Ukraine on Sunday and met the country's first lady, Olena Zelenska.

It was the first time a US first lady had traveled alone to a combat zone since 2015 when Michelle Obama visited Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar.

Biden crossed the Slovak-Ukrainian border after visiting the Slovak side of the border crossing at Vysne Nemecek.

She spent about two hours in Ukraine and visited the city of Uzhhorod in Zakarpattia Oblast in the southwestern corner of the country.

Zelenska, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, has been hiding with her children since the war.

Biden and Zelenska met at a school that had been converted into a shelter for displaced Ukrainians.

Zelenska got off a black SUV guarded by a Ukrainian soldier. Biden handed her flowers, and the two embraced.

Then they met in a small side room behind closed doors for over an hour.

When the traveling press was brought in briefly, Biden said, "I wanted to come on Mother's Day. It was essential to show the Ukrainian people that this war had to stop, that this war was brutal. And the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine."

"We feel it," replied Zelenska.

 I want to thank you for this courageous act," Zelenska continued. "Because we understand what it takes for an American first lady to come here during a war when military action happens every day, the sirens go off until today."

According to US officials, Biden had previously exchanged correspondence with Zelenska.

The first lady's visit to Ukraine was not announced ahead of time, nor was it on Biden's public schedule. Biden's motorcade to drive to Ukraine was scaled back, and many staff members (and some traveling reporters) remained in Slovakia.

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