Ukraine first lady declines State of the Union invitation

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden greet Olena Zelenska, spouse of Ukrainian’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House in Washington, Tuesday, July 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska was invited to attend President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address but was unable to come, according to the White House.

Zelenska was invited by the White House to sit with First Lady Jill Biden Thursday during Biden’s address to Congress, but she declined.

The effort to have her present comes as the president has been pushing lawmakers to pass more aid to Ukraine for its war effort, a push he is expected to make during his speech, as the second anniversary of Russia’s invasion into the region recently passed.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington in December to call for more aid and to urge unity in Congress against Russian aggression.

The White House had also invited Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, but she was also unable to come, according to the White House.

Biden had met Navalnaya and her daughter, Dasha, in San Francisco last month shortly after Navalny’s death in a Russian prison on Feb. 16.

The first lady will sit at the address with Kate Cox, who sued for the right to terminate a nonviable pregnancy in Texas and later left the state to receive abortion care.

Also in attendance for the address will be the parents of detained Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who were invited by Speaker Mike Johnson.

Politics

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