Ukraine’s First Lady visits the United States


Ukraine’s First Lady Olena Zelenska met Secretary of State Antony Blinken as she began a series of high-profile appearances in Washington, which will include a session with her US counterpart Jill Biden.

Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags flew alongside American flags on Pennsylvania Avenue as Ms. Zelenska made her way to her first advertised event in the United States, meeting Mr. Blinken.

The State Department announced and then canceled a scheduled brief appearance by Mr. Blinken and Ms. Zelenska in front of photographers.

The low-key arrival reflects the fact that Ms Zelenska is not traveling as an official representative of the government of her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky.

MS Zelenska studied architecture at university but worked as a comedy scriptwriter, including for Mr Zelensky, who was a comedian with a popular TV show before winning the presidency in 2019.

During the war, Mr Zelensky won the admiration of Ukrainians and Ukraine supporters abroad by staying in the capital, Kyiv, after Russian President Vladimir Putin launched his attack on Ukraine in February .

Ms. Zelenska largely disappeared with the couple’s two children in the first months after the invasion.

In an interview with Time magazine this month, she described the war that forced her to take shelter away from Mr Zelensky for security reasons in the early hours of Russian bombardment.

Their children, like other Ukrainians, have seen Mr. Zelensky widely since then in nightly video speeches he makes around the country.

Ms Zelenska emerged from solitary confinement on May 8 to greet Ms Biden, who was on an unannounced visit to western Ukraine.

The two first ladies then met at a school, where they hugged, talked and joined school children in making tissue paper bears as gifts for Mother’s Day.

Ms. Zelenska has taken on greater public visibility since that meeting. This includes giving more newspaper interviews about Ukraine’s struggles and plans during the conflict.

She promoted counseling to millions of Ukrainians struggling with grief and trauma.

She meets with Ms. Biden on Tuesday and will speak in the Congressional Auditorium on Capitol Hill to lawmakers on Wednesday.

Her husband received standing ovations from members of Congress in a video address to lawmakers in the same auditorium earlier in the war.


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