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First Lady Jill Biden meets with Ukrainian refugees in Romania, Slovakia

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Jill Biden will spend Mother’s Day meeting Ukrainian mothers and children who fled for their lives after Russian President Vladimir Putin opened war on Ukraine, the White House announced late Sunday.

The May 8 meeting will take place in Slovakia, one of two Eastern European countries that the first lady plans to visit during a five-day tour starting Thursday. She also wants to stop in Romania.

US First Lady Jill Biden waves at the inauguration ceremony of the USS Delaware nuclear submarine in the port of Wilmington, Delaware, USA, on April 2, 2022. REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz

US First Lady Jill Biden waves at the inauguration ceremony of the USS Delaware nuclear submarine in the port of Wilmington, Delaware, USA, on April 2, 2022. REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz
(REUTERS / Elizabeth Frantz)

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FILE - Internally displaced persons look out from a bus at a refugee center in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, on March 25, 2022. The UN refugee agency says more than 4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine following Russia's invasion, a new milestone in the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II.  (AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka)

FILE – Internally displaced persons look out from a bus at a refugee center in Zaporizhia, Ukraine, on March 25, 2022. The UN refugee agency says more than 4 million refugees have now fled Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, a new milestone in the biggest refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. (AP Photo / Evgeniy Maloletka)
(AP photo)

The trip will mark Biden’s latest solidarity show with Ukraine.

Romania and Slovakia share borders with Ukraine, which has spent the past two months fighting Russia’s military invasion. Romania and Slovakia are also NATO members.

Nearly 5.5 million Ukrainians, mostly women and children, have fled Ukraine since Russia invaded its smaller neighbor on February 24, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees said. Many have resettled in neighboring countries or moved elsewhere in Europe.

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Throughout the trip, Jill Biden will also meet with U.S. service members, U.S. embassy staff, humanitarian aid workers and educators, the White House said.

After arriving in Romania on Friday, she is scheduled to meet with U.S. officials at Mihail Kogalniceau Air Base, a U.S. military installation near the Black Sea.

The schedule then takes her to the Romanian capital Bucharest on Saturday to meet with officials, US embassy staff, humanitarian aid workers and educators helping to teach displaced Ukrainian children. The First Lady travels to Slovakia to meet with staff at the US Embassy in Bratislava.

People cross the Ukrainian border into Siret, Romania, on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, as they evacuate amid Russia's invasion of Ukraine.  (AP Photo / Fernando Llano)

People cross the Ukrainian border into Siret, Romania, on Wednesday, March 2, 2022, as they evacuate amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. (AP Photo / Fernando Llano)
(AP photo)

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On May 8, Jill Biden travels to Kosice and Vysne Nemecke in Slovakia to meet with refugees, humanitarian aid workers and local Slovaks who support Ukrainian families who have sought refuge in Slovakia.

She plans to meet with members of the Slovak government on May 9 before returning to the United States.

The trip will be the first lady’s second overseas for herself, following her trip to Tokyo last year for the opening of the delayed Olympics in 2020. The trip will also mark her latest gesture of solidarity with Ukraine.

Four days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Biden appeared at an event in the White House wearing a face mask embroidered with a sunflower, Ukraine’s national flower.

She also invited Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States, Oksana Markarova, to sit with her during President Joe Biden’s State of the Union speech in March, and she had a sunflower sewn on the sleeve of the blue dress she wore to the occasion.

President Biden visited Ukrainian refugees during a stop in Poland in March.

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