Jill Biden makes unannounced visit to Ukraine: live updates – USA TODAY

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First Lady Jill Biden made an unannounced visit to Ukraine on Sunday, meeting with the first lady of Ukraine, Olena Zelenska.

Biden crossed into Ukraine at Uzhhorod, visiting a school that is being used as temporary housing and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children. 

“I wanted to come in Mother’s Day. I thought it was important to show the Ukrainian people that this war has to stop, and this war has been brutal and that the people of the United States stand with the people of Ukraine,” Biden said.

President Joe Biden will meet virtually with Group of 7 leaders on Sunday morning to discuss Russia’s war in Ukraine and potential new sanctions. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will also participate in the meeting, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the U.S.

The meeting comes the day before Russia will celebrate its Victory Day, the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s defeat of Nazi Germany.

Western officials believe Russian President Vladimir Putin could use the Victory Day holiday to make an announcement about the war in Ukraine — either declaring a victory or escalating the conflict.

USA TODAY ON TELEGRAM: Join our Russia-Ukraine war channel to receive updates straight to your phone

Latest developments: 

►Almost 7,000 civilians have been killed or injured since the war in Ukraine started in February, according to the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

►Ukrainian forces have been making gains against Russian forces and may be able to push them out of artillery range of Kharkiv in the coming days, the Institute for the Study of War said in an assessment

►The latest military aid package from the U.S. is worth an additional $150 million, President Joe Biden announced.

Members of U2 perform in Kyiv subway

Bono and The Edge, of U2, performed Sunday in Kyiv, at the invitation of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the band said on Twitter.

Zelenskyy “invited us to perform in Kyiv as a show of solidarity with the Ukrainian people and so that’s what we’ve come to do,” Bono and The Edge tweeted.

Video clips on social media show the Irish band members singing “With or Without You” and performing a twist on “Stand by Me” with Taras Topola, the frontman of a popular Ukrainian band, Antibody.

– Katie Wadington

Russia bombing of school added to list of war crimes, UN ambassador says

Hours after Russia reportedly dropped a bomb on a school in eastern Ukraine, a top United States official said the act is part of a long list of war crimes Russia has committed.

 “We have called out the Russians very early on for committing war crimes and this contributes to that,” Linda Thomas-Greenfield, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Sunday during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Serhiy Haidai, the regional governor of Luhansk, said Sunday in a Facebook post that Russia dropped an “air bomb” on a school that was sheltering about 90 people. He said that while 30 people have been rescued, they fear that 60 people are dead.

Thomas-Greenfield said the United States is going to continue to work with Ukrainian prosecutors and others to document evidence of Russia’s war crimes “so that they can be held accountable.”

“This just adds to the long list that we already have,” she said.

– Rebecca Morin

Jill Biden visits Ukrainian school, meets Ukrainian first lady

First Lady Jill Biden made an unannounced trip into Ukraine on Sunday, entering an active war zone where she met with her Ukrainian counterpart.

Biden met Olena Zelenska, the first lady of Ukraine, during a visit to a public school in Uzhhorod, which is being used as temporary housing and shelter for 163 displaced Ukrainians, including 47 children. 

This is the first time Zelenska has appeared in public since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24.

Zelenska thanked Biden for visiting, “because we understand what it takes for the US 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.”

“We all feel your support and we all feel the leadership of the U.S. president, but we would like to note that the Mother’s Day is a very symbolic day for us because we also feel your love and support during such an important day,” the Ukrainian first lady said.

Biden and Zelenska met privately for an hour. The first lady spent just less than two hours in Ukraine before crossing the border back into Slovakia.

– Rebecca Morin

Russia’s war in Ukraine explained: Evacuations, accusations and denials: Key events in Russia’s war in Ukraine in 5 graphics

Russia’s ‘firehose of falsehood’

In this war, Russia is invoking World War II and Nazism in an effort to smear Ukrainian leaders, including attacks on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov recently fanned those flames when he raised the unproven claim that Adolf Hitler had Jewish ancestry. Zelenskyy, who is Jewish, accused Russia of spreading anti-Semitic tropes.

“Right now, at times, Russian propaganda even equates Nazis and Western civilization,” said Shirikov, who specializes in propaganda and misinformation.

Russia’s propaganda machine is a “firehose of falsehood” whose primary target audience is Russians themselves, said Christopher Paul, senior social scientist at the RAND Corp., a global policy think tank based in Santa Monica, Calif.

Read more here about the propaganda being use in war.

School shelter bombed, 60 feared dead

A Ukrainian official accused Russians of dropping an “air bomb” on a school where about 90 residents of the village of Bilohorivka were taking shelter. 

Serhiy Haidai, the regional governor of Luhansk, said in a Facebook post that 30 of the people hidden there had been rescued so far.

“Most likely, all 60 people who remain under the rubble are now dead,” Gov. Serhiy Haidai wrote on the Telegram messaging app. Russian shelling also killed two boys, ages 11 and 14, in the nearby town of Pryvillia, he said.

Haidai said “almost the whole village was hidden. Everyone who didn’t have time to evacuate.”

Zelenskyy hopes to evacuate wounded and military from steel plant next

Now that evacuations have successfully removed all women, children and elderly from the Azovstol steel mill in Mariupol, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said another mission will attempt to rescue injured people and medics.

Zelenskyy also said in his nightly video address to the nation late Saturday that the effort to also evacuate the Ukrainian soldiers still there, the “heroes who defended Mariupol,” would be “difficult.”

Iryna Vereshchuk, a deputy prime minister for Ukraine, announced Saturday that the evacuations of vulnerable citizens had taken place from the steel mill, where civilians and Ukrainian troops were the last holdout from Russian forces. More than 300 people were evacuated in recent days, Zelenskyy said, after conditions in the underground bunkers increasingly worsened and Russia ramped up its shelling. 

Russia rehearses Victory Day parade

Russia held a dress rehearsal on Saturday for the military parade to commemorate Victory Day on May 9, when the country marks the defeat of Nazi Germany during World War II.

In Moscow on Saturday, an RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile rolled through Red Square as part of the rehearsal, with warplanes and helicopters flying overhead, troops marching in formation and self-propelled artillery vehicles rumbling past.

Contributing: The Associated Press