Zelenska was greeted at the White House by President Joe Biden and Jill Biden. The President handed a large bouquet of flowers to Zelenska when she got out of the car and the two first ladies hugged.
According to the White House, the first ladies “will discuss the United States’ continued support for the government of Ukraine and its people as they defend their democracy and cope with the significant human impacts of Russia’s war, which will be felt for years to come.”
Zelenska will first attend a private meeting with Biden, followed by an expanded bilateral meeting with Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff, US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield, Deputy Administrator of the US Agency for International Development Isobel Coleman, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Toria Nuland and US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.
During the bilateral meeting, the White House says, the first ladies “will discuss how the United States can continue to alleviate suffering through support and humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people, and the need to hold accountable those responsible for war crimes and other atrocities.”
Zelenska is in Washington this week to highlight the human cost of Russia’s ongoing war on Ukraine. She met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Monday, and is scheduled to deliver remarks to members of Congress on Capitol Hill Wednesday morning.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Monday that Blinken, in the meeting, “emphasized the United States’ comprehensive and enduring commitment to support Ukraine’s victory in Russia’s unjust and unprovoked war.” Blinken and Zelenska also “spoke about the immense and growing human costs of Russia’s full-scale invasion.”
Biden and Zelenska first met in person in May, when Biden made a stealth trip to Ukraine. The first ladies had been in communication prior to their meeting, which was the first time Zelenska emerged from hiding since the start of the Russian invasion in February. During their one-hour closed meeting, Zelenska shared with Biden her concerns for the emotional health of Ukrainian children.
Zelenska’s visit to the White House comes as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired several high ranking officials from Ukraine’s intelligence agency, the SBU.
Among those sacked is the deputy head of the SBU, Volodymyr Horbenko. Zelensky also sacked the heads of the regional offices in Dnipropetrovsk, Poltava, Sumy, Zakarpattia and Zhytomyr.
Zelensky also recently suspended the head of the SBU, Ivan Bakanov, and filed a resolution with the Ukrainian parliament for his dismissal, launching an investigation into the presence of Russian collaborators among the ranks of his organization.
While the thrust of the Russian offensive in Ukraine is focused on the Donbas region, Zelenska’s visit focused the human cost of the war also comes as missile attacks have picked up in southern Ukraine.
Nataliya Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the Ukrainian military’s Operational Command South, said that six Russian Kalibr missiles had hit a village in Odesa region, striking residential buildings close to a school and a cultural center. Six people had been injured.
Humeniuk alsop said the Russians were using civilians as human shields, “as well as to keep them in that territory for the so-called referendum.”
“The occupiers are gradually releasing people in the direction of Zaporizhzhia,” she said.
CNN’s Olga Voitovych and Tim Lister contributed to this report.