UZHHOROD, Ukraine — First lady Jill Biden crossed the border into Ukraine on Sunday, entering an active war zone in a rare move for the spouse of a sitting president.
Biden entered the country on Mother’s Day from Slovakia after she visited a processing center at the Vysne Nemecke border crossing and met with refugees. Inside Ukraine, she met with Ukrainian first lady Olena Zelenska, who had not appeared in public since the Russian invasion on Feb. 24.
Zelenska praised Biden “for a very courageous act” in coming to Ukraine.
“We understand what it takes for the U.S. first lady to come here during a war when the military actions are taking place every day, where the air sirens are happening every day, even today,” she said in Ukrainian through an interpreter.
The unannounced Biden visit came amid a four-day swing through Eastern Europe for the first lady — her highest-profile diplomatic engagement since President Biden took office. She entered Ukraine the day before Russia’s Victory Day, which some officials worry will bring a new, more violent, phase of the war.
Previous first ladies have made overseas visits to support U.S. troops stationed abroad, but few have visited an active war zone on their own. 
President Biden has not traveled to Ukraine since the war began, with aides privately citing the security challenges that a visit would pose. In March, he visited Rzeszow, Poland, which is about 60 miles from the Ukrainian border.
Biden and other Group of Seven leaders were scheduled to hold a video call with Zelensky later on Sunday. A White House official said the leaders planned to discuss Russia’s ongoing invasion and how the G-7 countries could continue to support Ukraine and levy costs on Moscow.