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Ukrainian first lady Zelenska was welcomed by the president and Jill Biden at the White House

First lady Jill Biden and President Biden greet first lady Olena Zelenska as Zelenska arrives on the South Lawn of the White House, July 19, 2022.

First lady Jill Biden welcomed Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska to the White House Tuesday for their second in-person bilateral meeting amid Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine.

President Biden, holding a bouquet of flowers, joined the first lady to greet Zelenska Tuesday afternoon. The bouquet the president gave to Zelenska consisted of yellow sunflowers, blue hydrangeas, and white orchids.

The first lady visited Ukraine on Mother’s Day in May in a rare solo trip, meeting with Zelenska in a small classroom. On Tuesday, Biden and Zelenska, joined by second gentleman Doug Emhoff, discussed their past visit.

Reflecting on the visit Tuesday, Biden said that when she returned to the U.S., one of the things she realized was “you cannot go into a war zone and come back and not feel the sorrow and the pain of the people.” 

“And you introduced me to so many refugees, the mothers and the children,” Biden said. “And we spent some time with them.”

Biden said they discussed “mental health issues” for mothers and children – something she had been talking to her team about since she returned to the U.S. from Ukraine.

First lady Olena Zelenska at the White House with President Biden and first lady Jill Biden, July 19, 2022. 

“I think you received my letter about what we’re doing to help with mental health for the mothers and the children who have really, you know, suffered such tragedy and the atrocities and so I’ve been working on it,” Biden said. “The team has been working on it.”

Meanwhile, during her visit to the U.S., Zelenska met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who underscored the U.S. “commitment to support Ukraine’s victory,” according to State Department spokesman Ned Price.

“He reiterated that the United States will continue to provide assistance to help Ukraine respond to the significant economic and humanitarian challenges it faces, including supporting the first lady’s mental health initiative for citizens affected by the war,” Price added.

First lady Jill Biden at the White House, Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

“The secretary reiterated that the United States remains dedicated to helping the people of Ukraine recover and rebuild from the devastation inflicted on them by [Russian] President Putin’s unjust war,” he added.

Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, second from left, joins Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, right, for a meeting with first lady Jill Biden at the White House, Tuesday, July 19, 2022.

Zelenska, on Wednesday, is expected to meet with congressional lawmakers, and is set to deliver an address before Congress.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy virtually addressed Congress in March.

President Biden has yet to visit Ukraine. Several high-profile individuals – including Blinken, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi – have now visited Kyiv and walked its streets in a sign of support for Ukraine. 

The president, in May, signed a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine. The $40 billion was in addition to $800 million in military aid for Ukraine, including heavy artillery and ammunition, as the country continues to fight to defend itself against Russia’s multi-front war. That funding was in addition to an authorization of $800 million in weapons, ammunition and other security assistance in early April. 

That $1.6 billion the president approved Ukraine came on top of the more than $1 billion the Biden administration already sent to Ukraine in March. 


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