Ukraine war: First ladies meet as US announces new sanctions

May 9, 2022 8:00 am

Olena Zelenska, left, and Jill Biden met at a school in the border town of Uzhhorod. [Source: BBC News]

US First Lady Jill Biden has met her Ukrainian counterpart, Olena Zelenska, in Ukraine as Washington announced further sanctions on Moscow.

The two first ladies met at a school in the border town of Uzhhorod.

It was Mrs Zelenska’s first appearance in public since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began on 24 February.

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The US imposed new sanctions – including visa curbs on 2,600 Russian and Belarusian individuals – in response to the Russian invasion.

Three Russian TV stations and executives from Gazprombank were also sanctioned by Washington.

Meanwhile, G7 leaders said they were committed to phasing out or banning Russian oil.

The meeting between the two first ladies took place at a school which is currently being used as a temporary shelter for displaced people.

Mrs Biden said she wanted “to show that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine”, adding that the war – now in its third month – had been “brutal” and had to stop.

Mrs Zelenska said it had been a “courageous act” to visit Ukraine while it was at war.

She added that the visit, on Mother’s Day in Ukraine and in the US, was very symbolic.

“We feel your love and support during such an important day.”

The two women later sat down and played with some of the dozens of children who are currently housed at the school, making tissue paper bears – the symbol of the local province.

The announcement of new sanctions came after G7 leaders held a video call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

A senior US official said the new US sanctions would hit 27 Gazprombank executives. However, the measures do not freeze the firm’s assets or outlaw transactions with it.

It is unclear who is on the list of 2,600 Russian and Belarusian individuals to be hit with visa restrictions.

The US announcement came at the end of a day of diplomatic events, which included visits to Ukraine by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the speaker of the German Bundestag and Mrs Biden.

Mr Trudeau announced that Canada was sending new weapons and equipment for Ukraine’s army, as well as imposing its own range of new sanctions on Russian individuals and companies.