WP says Zelenska refused to attend Biden's address because of Navalnaya. Kyiv cites busy schedule
Olena Zelenska and Joe Biden (Photo: EPA/BONNIE CASH)

The Washington Post, citing interlocutors in Washington, wrote that First Lady Olena Zelenska refused to attend US President Joe Biden's State of Union address in Congress on March 7, allegedly due to the invitation of Yulia, the widow of Russian dissident Alexei Navalny. Zelenska's representative, Tetyana Hayduchenko, told LIGA.net that this was due to her schedule.

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The publication writes that the White House wanted to seat US First Lady Jill Biden next to Zelenska and Navalnaya, so that it would become a "powerful backdrop to President Biden’s address to a joint session of Congress."

It is noted that Navalnaya's potential presence "caused discomfort" for the Ukrainians.

"Though her late husband is widely hailed as an anticorruption icon who risked his life to oppose Putin, Navalny’s legacy in Ukraine is clouded by past statements that Crimea, which Putin annexed in 2014, belonged to Russia," the article reads.

Also, WP suggests that another possible reason for Zelenska's refusal was Kyiv's reluctance to spoil relations with the Republicans, who are currently blocking the continuation of aid to Ukraine, and her presence could look like "too supportive of President Biden."

According to Hayduchenko, the Embassy of Ukraine in the US did receive an invitation for Zelenska to attend Biden's speech in Congress, but due to her schedule, which includes a visit to Kyiv to children from an orphanage, she will not be able to participate in the event.

On February 14, 2024, US President Biden called on Speaker of the House of Representatives Mike Johnson to immediately vote on the bill on aid to Ukraine.

A delay in military aid to Ukraine from the United States may lead to European countries increasing their military support through the purchase of American weapons.

On February 26, President Zelenskyy said that Johnson promised him that he would do "everything" to help Ukraine.