Jill Biden issued a personal plea to Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to end his invasion of Ukraine, coming after her secret Mother’s Day trip to the war torn country, where she met with Olena Zelensky.
‘Mr. 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 highest ranking member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit the Ukraine when she spent two hours there on Sunday.
She met with her counterpart, the wife of Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky at one of the nation’s public schools where the two women did art projects with some of the children.
‘Olena Zelenska, the wife of Ukraine’s President, came out of hiding, leaving her own children, to visit with me and ask for help for the people of her country. She didn’t ask me for food or clothing or weapons. She asked me to help her get mental health care for all those suffering from the effects of Vladimir Putin’s senseless and brutal war,’ Jill Biden wrote.
‘She told me of the rapes of women and children, and the many children who had seen people shot and killed, their homes burned. “I want to return home quickly,” she told me. “I only want to hold the hands of my children,”‘ she added.
The first lady wrote the essay by hand in her cabin on the flight home from Slovakia on Monday, according to her spokesperson Michael LaRosa.
Jill Biden and Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelensky post with Uzhhorod Mayor Bohdan Andriyiv (left) and Head of the Zakarpattia Regional State Administration Viktor Mykytaduring (right) during Biden’s visit to the Ukraine on Sunday
Jill Biden issued a personal plea to Vladimir Putin to end his invasion of Ukraine
Her essay came the day after U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines, the administration’s top spy chief, warned the fighting will grow worse and that Putin will expand his reach beyond the Donbas region in southeast Ukraine.
His targets could include neighboring Moldova, which is mostly encircled by Ukraine and, in its east, has Transnistria, a breakaway region controlled by pro-Russian separatists with the help of around 1,500 Russian troops.
‘We are not confident that the fight in the Donbas will effectively end the war,’ Haines said in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee. ‘We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas.’
Russian missiles have pounded the port of Odesa in an effort to disrupt the supply lines and weapons shipments that have been critical to Kyiv’s defence.
The war is entering its 11th week.
After her visit on Sunday, Jill Biden encouraged President Biden to keep supporting the Ukraine.
The first lady called the president from her car as she returned from her secret visit to a Ukraine public school where she met with her counterpart Olena Zelensky and made art projects with the children.
She told reporters in Slovakia on Monday that she said to her husband: ‘I said just how much I saw the need to support the people of Ukraine.’
She also said she told him about the ‘horrors and the brutality that the people I had met had experienced.’
Biden said she will carry with her the stories of the mothers and children she met on her trip.
‘I am returning home to the United States carrying with me the stories of the mothers and children I met. As a 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 Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky
Jill Biden and Olena Zelensky have corresponded in the past few weeks, the White House said
Jill Biden and Olena Zelensky join a group of children in making tissue-paper bears
Jill Biden with Olena Zelensky – this is the first time Zelensky has appeared in public since Feb. 24, the date of the Russian invasion
Biden became the highest profile member of President Joe Biden’s administration to visit the 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 has to stop and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,’ she said.
The visit wasn’t announced due to security reasons. The first lady traveled by vehicle to the town of Uzhhorod, about a 10-minute drive from a Slovakian village that borders Ukraine. She spent about two hours in Ukraine.
Biden always planned to visit a school in the Ukraine as part of her trip, her spokesperson Michael LaRosa told reporters traveling with the first lady but Ukrainian officials suggested Mrs. Zelensky would want to meet her. That part of the visit came together in the past 10 days.
Biden gave Zelensky, the wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a bouquet of flowers. This is the first time Zelensky has appeared in public since Feb. 24, the date that Russia invaded.
The two first ladies have exchanged correspondences in the last few weeks, the White House said. It began when the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S. gave Biden a letter from Mrs. Zelensky at the State of the Union, when she was one of the first lady’s guests. Zelensky sent Biden another letter in April expressing concerns about the toll of the war having on the mental health of children, soldiers and families.
‘First of all, I would like to thank you for a very courageous act,’ Zelensky said through a translator when she and Jill Biden met together at the school
‘Because we understand what it takes for the US First Lady to come here during a war when the military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day even today,’ she said. She and her children have been in a secure location during the war.
‘We all feel your support and we all feel the leadership of the U.S. president but we would like to note that the Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel your love and support during such an important day,’ Zelensky said.
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 handling the war. Zelensky said she was grateful she ‘is able to hold her children’s hands every night even though she can’t be with her husband.’
The first ladies visited a public school in Uzhhorod that is being used as temporary housing and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children.
They joined kids who were working on art projects for their mothers. The children were crafting cardboard and tissue paper bears, which represent the symbol of the Zakarpattia Oblast.
Both women worked on crafting their own bears, using white and yellow tissue paper.