Ukraine president's wife Olena Zelenska on US trip

Volodymyr Zelenskyy's wife met Antony Blinken and will see Jill Biden

Olena Zelenska, wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is greeted by USAid administrator Samantha Power in Washington on Monday. Reuters
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The Ukrainian president's wife, Olena Zelenska, met US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday as she began a series of high-profile appearances in Washington that will include a session with Jill Biden, wife of President Joe Biden.

Blue and yellow Ukrainian flags flew alongside the stars and stripes on Pennsylvania Avenue as Ms Zelenska headed for her first announced event in the US, the meeting with Mr Blinken.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Mr Blinken assured Ms Zelenska of the US’s commitment to Ukraine.

He also commended her for her work with civilians dealing with trauma and other damage from the war.

Ms Zelenska is not travelling as an official representative of the government of her husband, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

She studied architecture in college but worked as a scriptwriter, including for Mr Zelenskyy, who was a comedian with a popular TV show before winning the presidency in 2019.

During the war, Mr Zelenskyy has won admiration from Ukrainians and his country's 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 during the first months after the invasion.

This month she described to Time magazine how the war forced her to shelter away from Mr Zelenskyy for security reasons from the first hours of Russia’s bombing.

Their children, like other Ukrainians, have mainly seen Mr Zelenskyy since then in his nightly video addresses to the country.

Ms Zelenska emerged from seclusion May 8 to greet Ms Biden, who was making an unannounced visit to western Ukraine.

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

Ms Zelenska has taken a higher public profile since that meeting, including more newspaper interviews about Ukraine’s struggles and her projects during the conflict.

She has promoted counselling for the millions of Ukrainians now dealing with grief and trauma.

Ms Zelenska will meet Ms Biden on Tuesday and speak in the congressional auditorium at the Capitol to legislators on Wednesday.

Her husband received standing ovations from congressional members in a video address in the same auditorium earlier in the war.

Ukrainian officials did not immediately respond to questions Monday about the schedule of her visit.

Updated: July 18, 2022, 11:16 PM
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