Ukraine’s first lady to address Congress this week
Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska will address Congress on Wednesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced on Monday.
The first lady will deliver remarks in the congressional auditorium of the Capitol Visitor Center and all members of the House and Senate are invited.
The speech is part of a multiday trip Zelenska is making in Washington, D.C. She met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Monday.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said that the secretary used the meeting as an opportunity to underscore U.S. commitment to helping Ukraine recover from Russia’s invasion and “commend the first lady’s work to support the many Ukrainian civilians who have been, in different ways, impacted by this brutal war.”
On Tuesday, Zelenska will deliver remarks at the Victims of Communism Museum in Washington and accept the Dissident Human Rights Award on behalf of the people of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has established himself as the face of Ukrainian resolve against Russia’s war, while his wife has kept a much lower profile.
Zelenska has largely stayed to the background of advocacy throughout Russia’s war against Ukraine, first going into hiding with their two children – a 17-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son — at the start of the Kremlin’s invasion in February. But she has begun to emerge as a strong advocate for psychological support to those impacted by the war.
First lady Jill Biden made a secret trip over the border into Ukraine in May to meet with Zelenska on Mother’s Day, in what Zelenska called “a courageous act.”
“We understand what it takes for the U.S. first lady to come here during a war, where the military actions are taking place every day, where the air raid sirens are happening every day — even today,” NBC News quoted her as saying at the time.