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Ukrainian First Lady Rejects State of the Union Invitation

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Olena Zelenska, Ukraine’s first girl, declined a White House invitation to attend President Biden’s State of the Union deal with on Thursday, her workplace stated, citing a scheduling battle.

“Due to scheduled events, including a visit of children from an orphanage to Kyiv, which was planned in advance, the first lady will unfortunately not be able to attend the event,” Tetiana Haiduchenko, Ms. Zelenska’s press secretary, stated on Wednesday.

Yulia Navalnaya — the widow of the Russian opposition chief Alexei A. Navalny, who died in a Russian jail final month — was additionally invited to the deal with however is unable to attend, the White House stated on Tuesday.

The invitation to Ms. Zelenska, and the truth that she was unable to make it, have been reported Tuesday night by The Washington Post.

The White House hoped to have each ladies on the speech as an indication of the combat for freedom and a present of resistance to Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, based on an individual acquainted with the planning for the deal with. Officials additionally believed that having each ladies there can be a strong image of how excessive the stakes are to these opposing additional assist to Ukraine.

Mr. Biden has been urgent Republicans in Congress to approve a $60 billion army and monetary assist package deal for Ukraine, and he’s anticipated to make an enormous push for continued assist in his deal with Thursday evening.

Facing setbacks on the battlefield, Ukraine has stated it urgently wants American army assist to maintain up its protection.

Ms. Zelenska’s determination to not attend Mr. Biden’s speech contrasts with Kyiv’s normal readiness to place representatives on the worldwide scene to rally assist for the war-torn nation. She and her husband, President Volodymyr Zelensky, have traveled extensively world wide since Russia’s full-scale invasion started two years in the past, attending award ceremonies, diplomatic conferences and presidential inaugurations.

But latest journeys by Ukrainian officers to the United States have yielded few outcomes. Mr. Zelensky left Washington empty-handed in December after assembly with Mr. Biden and Congress members whom he hoped to influence to unblock a $60 billion assist package deal.

Anatoly Kurmanaev and Oleksandra Mykolyshyn contributed reporting.

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