JILL BIDEN VISITS UKRAINE; DOZENS FEARED DEAD IN SCHOOL BOMBING
UZHHOROD, Ukraine — Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to western Ukraine on Sunday, holding a surprise Mother’s Day meeting with first lady Olena Zelenska to show U.S. support for the embattled nation as Russia presses its punishing war in the eastern regions.
She became the latest high-profile American to enter Ukraine during the war, while Zalenska’s public appearance was her first since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24
“I wanted to come on Mother’s Day,” the U.S. first lady told Zelenska. “I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine.”
Biden spent about two hours in Ukraine, traveling by vehicle to the town of Uzhhorod, about a 10-minute drive from a Slovakian border village where she had toured a border processing facility.
Zelenska thanked Biden for her “courageous act” and said, “We understand what it takes for the U.S. first lady to come here during a war when military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day — even today.”
The first ladies met at a school being used to temporarily house Ukrainian migrants. Zalenska arrived first and waited in her black SUV until Biden arrived in similar fashion. The women stepped out of their vehicles and embraced, with Biden — who wore a wrist corsage for Mother’s Day — handing over a bouquet of flowers before they entered the school.
Zelenska and her two children have been staying at an undisclosed location for their safety.
School used as shelter flattened
More than 60 people were feared dead Sunday after a Russian bomb flattened a school being used as a shelter, Ukrainian officials said, while Moscow’s forces pressed their attack on defenders inside Mariupol’s steel plant in an apparent race to capture the city ahead of Russia’s Victory Day holiday Monday.
Authorities said about 90 people were sheltering in the basement of the school in the eastern village of Bilohorivka. Emergency crews found two bodies and rescued 30 people, but “most likely all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Serhiy Haidai, governor of Luhansk province, wrote on the Telegram messaging app.