First Lady Jill Biden travels to Slovakia-Ukraine border to meet with refugees: NPR

First Lady Jill Biden salutes during a submarine commissioning ceremony at Port of Wilmington in Wilmington, Del. on April 2, 2022.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

First Lady Jill Biden salutes during a submarine commissioning ceremony at Port of Wilmington in Wilmington, Del. on April 2, 2022.

Carolyn Kaster/AP

First Lady Jill Biden will spend Mother’s Day along the Slovakia-Ukraine border, meeting Ukrainian mothers and children who fled their country after the Russian invasion.

Biden will also visit schools that have taken in Ukrainian refugees and meet with US troops stationed along NATO’s eastern flank during a four-day visit to Romania and Slovakia.

The two NATO allies border Ukraine. They each hosted hundreds of thousands of refugees and also served as a staging base for NATO military support to Ukraine.

Biden is the latest in a long line of senior US officials to show support for Ukraine and US NATO allies by visiting Eastern Europe. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin have all visited Ukraine in recent weeks. Biden met with Ukrainian refugees in Poland in March.

The trip marks Biden’s most high-profile moment yet as first lady — a tenure so far marked by Biden’s groundbreaking decision to keep his full-time job as a community college professor. It’s a classic use of symbolism in the role of first lady, signaling America’s commitment by showing up — and grabbing media attention with it.

“[It’s] confirmation that the United States will not forget the people of Ukraine, as well as allied countries helping Ukrainian refugees,” said Anita McBride, who leads American University’s First Ladies Initiative and once served as chief of staff by Laura Bush.

Biden arrives in Romania on Friday afternoon. She will visit US and NATO troops at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base, serving dinner to the military, among others. NATO has increased the military presence along its eastern flank, in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and persistent warnings from Russian President Vladimir Putin that the war could escalate into a more NATO-Russia conflict. large.

Romania and Slovakia both joined NATO in 2004, part of the eastward expansion of the military alliance that Putin has raged against and regularly cited as part of his vindication to attack Ukraine.

Biden to meet with refugees and aid workers

Biden will visit schools that have taken in Ukrainian refugees, continuing to emphasize education that has been a defining feature of her time as first lady.

On Sunday, she will travel to the Slovakian border town of Vysne Nemecke, to visit one of the many crossing points where more than 5 million Ukrainian refugees, mostly women and children, crossed the border to escape tanks and Russian missiles.

More than 800,000 refugees have settled in Romania, according to the United Nations. Slovakia hosts nearly 400,000 displaced Ukrainians.

The trip is Biden’s second solo visit to another country as first lady. In 2021, she led the American delegation to the Tokyo Olympics.

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