First lady Jill Biden on Sunday met with Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia, offering solace and promising that the United States would continue to support them, then crossed the border into Ukraine.
Pool reports indicated that Biden met at a school in Ukraine with first lady Olena Zelenska, who has rarely been seen in public in recent months. Biden gave her a bouquet of flowers and asked how, as a mother, she was handling the war.
Slovakia, though it only shares a slender border with Ukraine, has seen an influx of refugees since Russia launched its massive attack on Ukraine in February.
According to pool reports, Biden spoke through an interpreter to some of those she met at the bus station in the Slovakian city of Kosice, asking them to share their experiences.
“They come to our land. They kill us, but they say we protect you,” a woman identified as Viktoriia Kutocha told Biden.
“It’s so hard to understand,” Biden replied.
Kutocha said she found it impossible to explain what was going on to her children.
“It’s senseless,” Biden said. Her 7-year-old daughter then hugged the first lady.
The first lady, who had previously visited Romania on her four-day visit to Eastern Europe, also traveled to Vysne Nemecke along the Ukraine-Slovakia border, and following that by crossing the border into Ukraine, visiting a public school being used to house displaced citizens.
Biden, who was greeted in Slovakia by Prime Minister Eduard Heger, also conferred with non-governmental organizations attempting to provide assistance to the refugees there and took part in a prayer service in a tent.
The first lady’s trip to the region came one week after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Kyiv. Reports on Sunday indicated that Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, visited the Ukrainian town of Irpin, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland and Foreign Minister Mélanie Joly.