Jill Biden on Wednesday made a personal plea to Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine after meeting after her secret Mother’s Day trip to the war-torn country, where she met with Olena Zelensky.
‘Mister. Putin, please end this senseless and brutal war,” the first lady wrote in an essay about her trip published on CNN.com.
Biden became the most senior member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit Ukraine when she spent two hours there on Sunday.
She met her counterpart, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, at one of the country’s public schools, where the two women were conducting art projects with some of the children.
“Olena Zelenska, the wife of the President of Ukraine, came out of hiding and left her own children to visit me and ask for help for the people of her country. She did not ask me for food, clothing, or weapons. She has asked me to help her get mental health care for all those suffering the effects of Vladimir Putin’s senseless and brutal war,” Jill Biden wrote.
“She told me about the rapes of women and children and the many children who had seen people being shot and killed, their homes burned. “I want to return home quickly,” she told me. “I just want to hold my kids’ hands,” she added.
The first lady wrote the essay by hand in her cabin on Monday on the flight home from Slovakia. according to her spokeswoman Michael LaRosa.
Jill Biden and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelensky pose with Uzhhorod Mayor Bohdan Andriyiv (left) and Head of the Transcarpathian Regional State Administration Viktor Mykytaduring (right) during Biden’s visit to Ukraine on Sunday
Jill Biden made a personal plea to Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine
Her essay came the day after US Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the government’s top spy chief, warned that fighting was getting worse and that Putin was expanding his reach beyond the Donbass region in south-eastern Ukraine.
Its targets could include neighboring Moldova, which is largely encircled by Ukraine and to the east of which lies Transnistria, a breakaway region controlled by pro-Russian separatists with the help of some 1,500 Russian troops.
“We are not confident that fighting in Donbass will effectively end the war,” Haines said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “We understand that President Putin is preparing for an ongoing conflict in Ukraine, in which he still intends to achieve goals beyond Donbass.”
Russian missiles have bombed the port of Odessa to cut off supply lines and arms shipments vital to Kiev’s defense.
The war enters its 11th week.
After her visit on Sunday, Jill Biden encouraged President Biden to continue supporting Ukraine.
The First Lady called the President from her car as she returned from her secret visit to a Ukrainian public school, where she met with her counterpart Olena Zelensky and did art projects with the children.
She told reporters in Slovakia on Monday that she said to her husband: “I said how much I see the need to support the people of Ukraine.”
She also said she told him about the “horrors and brutality that the people I met had experienced.”
Biden said she will take with her the stories of the mothers and children she met on her journey.
“I am returning home to the United States carrying with me the stories of the mothers and children I have met. As one Romanian mother said, “Our hearts have no borders,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “We are committed to supporting Ukraine, the Ukrainian people, and our allies and partners.”
Jill Biden and Olena Zelensky, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy
Jill Biden and Olena Zelensky have been corresponding for the past few weeks, the White House said
Jill Biden and Olena Zelensky join a group of kids to make tissue paper bears
Jill Biden with Olena Zelensky – this is the first time Zelensky has appeared in public since February 24, the date of the Russian invasion
Biden became the most prominent member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit Ukraine when she made her secret visit there on Sunday.
“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day. I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war must stop and that this war was brutal and that the people of the United States stand behind the people of Ukraine,” she said.
The visit was not announced for security reasons. The first lady traveled by vehicle to the town of Uzhhorod, about a 10-minute drive from a Slovak village that borders Ukraine. She spent about two hours in Ukraine.
Biden always planned to visit a school in Ukraine as part of her trip, her spokesman Michael LaRosa told reporters traveling with the first lady, but Ukrainian officials suggested Ms. Zelensky would like to meet her. This part of the visit came together in the last 10 days.
Biden presented a bouquet of flowers to Zelenskyy, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This is the first time Zelenskyy has made a public appearance since February 24, the date of the Russian invasion.
The two First Ladies have exchanged correspondence over the past few weeks, the White House said. It began when Ukraine’s Ambassador to the US presented Biden with a letter from Ms. Zelenskyy in the State of the Union when she was one of the First Lady’s guests. Zelenskyy sent Biden another letter in April, expressing concern about the war’s impact on the mental health of children, soldiers and families.
“First, I want to thank you for a very brave act,” Zelensky said through a translator when she and Jill Biden met at school
“Because we understand what it takes for the US First Lady to come here during a war, when the military action is happening every day, where the air sirens can be heard every day even today,” she said. She and her children were in a safe place during the war.
“We all feel your support and we all feel the guidance of the US President, but we want to note that Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel your love and support on such an important day,” he said Zelensky.
The two also met privately for about 30 minutes. LaRosa said the first lady asked Zelensky how she was doing as a mother and how she was dealing with the war. Zelensky said she’s grateful she can “hold her children’s hands every night, even though she can’t be with her husband.”
The First Ladies attended a public school in Uzhgorod that serves as temporary shelter and housing for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children.
They joined children working on art projects for their mothers. The children made cardboard and tissue paper bears, which are the symbol of Zakarpattia Oblast.
Both women worked on making their own bears out of white and yellow tissue paper.