Ukraine’s first lady, Olena Zelenska, is set to address the US Congress on Wednesday, nearly five months after Russia launched its large-scale invasion of her country.
President Volodymyr Zelensky’s wife will speak before lawmakers at 11 a.m. and ask for the US to ramp up its support for Ukraine.
Zelenska also hopes to boost humanitarian aid in Ukraine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s office said in a statement.
“We look forward to hearing First Lady Zelenska report on this situation, as well as offer insight on security, economic and humanitarian conditions on the ground,” Pelosi said in a statement.
“We hope that all Members will take advantage of this important and timely opportunity to hear directly from First Lady Zelenska, to learn more about the terrible toll of the Russian invasion and to express our gratitude to the people of Ukraine for their fight for Democracy.”
Zelenska’s speech follows repeated calls by her husband and top officials in Kyiv for the US to provide additional help to the war-torn country.
Zelensky said he expected “significant results” from his wife’s meetings in Washington.
“I strongly believe it will be heard by those people responsible for making decisions in the United States,” he said of his wife’s address to Congress.
On Tuesday, Zelenska was gifted a bouquet of flowers by President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden as they welcomed her to the White House.
“First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska embodies the same tenacity and resilience as the country she hails from,” Biden tweeted on Tuesday. “It was an honor for Jill and me to welcome her to the White House this afternoon.”
The two first ladies and delegations from both countries sat down for a meeting in the White House Blue Room shortly after.
Zelenska’s “visit to the Congress is part of her important mission here in the United States, meeting with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and other senior Biden Administration officials,” Pelosi said.
On Monday, Zelenska met with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and USAID Administrator Samantha Power.
State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a statement on Monday that Blinken “emphasized the United States’ comprehensive and enduring commitment to support Ukraine’s victory in Russia’s unjust and unprovoked war.”
The pair also “spoke about the immense and growing human costs of Russia’s full-scale invasion.”
Zelensky initially urged the US to deliver long-range missile systems to his country on March 16 in his own address to Congress. Ukraine’s president also called for a no-fly zone over his country — a plea the West has repeatedly rejected over fears of escalating the conflict into a wider war.
Since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, more than 5,000 civilians — including several hundred children — have been killed. As many as 1.6 million Ukrainians have been forcibly deported from their homes to Russian territory, according to State Department estimates.