First Lady of Ukraine pays tribute to Her Majesty: President Zelensky’s wife Olena bows her head during visit to see Queen lying in state as husband stays at home to continue fight against Russia
Ms Zelenska was spotted entering Westminster Hall, where the late monarch is currently lying in state, just a few minutes before US President Joe Biden arrived on Sunday afternoon.
She is expected to lead representation for war-torn Ukraine at the funeral for the late monarch on Monday.
She was pictured along other members of the Ukrainian contingent, dressed in all black and wearing a golden brooch on her chest.
As she contemplated the solemn occasion, her expression was sombre and she bowed her head in respect.
Ms Zelenska stayed in the hall for several minutes as members of the British public filed past below.
The wife of Ukraine’s President Zelensky, Olena Zelenska, bows her head as she pays tribute to the late Queen Elizabeth II
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (R) and his wife Olena have presented a united front since Russia invaded Ukraine in February
Ms Zelenska appeared alongside other members of the Ukrainian delegation to the UK
Ukraine’s First Lady was pictured in Westminster Hall at shortly before 4.45pm on Sunday evening.
Her arrival in the UK had been hotly anticipated after it was confirmed that her husband, President Zelensky, would be remaining at home to lead the war effort.
He will remain in Ukraine as his country continues to battle back Vladimir Putin’s invading forces.
Putin, who has previously had an audience with the Queen, has not been invited, despite offering his condolences to the royal family last week.
A line of foreign dignitaries has entered Westminster Hall today, including French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Brigitte, and most recently US president Joe Biden and his wife Jill.
Ukraine has pushed Russian forces back and made major gains in the east of the country in recent weeks, forcing Russian troops to regroup to protect its remaining held land.
Russia was left reeling by the shock offensive in the east, as Ukraine pulled off a great tactical manoeuvre to convince Putin it was planning an attack in the south.
The cities of Izyum, Kupyansk and Vovchansk which formed the staging post for Russia’s attacks in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions and contain key railway lines to get ammo and other supplies to its soldiers are now under Ukrainian control.
Kyiv’s rapid advance has now slowed as Russian troops regroup and try to re-establish a frontline, with fighting said to be ongoing around Lyman, Rubizhne, Lysychansk and Severodonetsk.
In the newly freed village of Chkalovske in the Kharkiv region, Svitlana Honchar said the Russians’ departure was sudden and swift.
‘They left like the wind,’ Honchar said Tuesday after loading cans of food aid into her car. ‘They were fleeing by any means they could.’
Some Russians appeared to have been left behind in the hasty retreat. ‘They were trying to catch up,’ she said.
It was not yet clear if the Ukrainian blitz, which unfolded after months of little discernible movement, could signal a turning point in the nearly seven-month war.
In its latest update on the situation in Ukraine, the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said it is unclear whether Russia’s frontline forces have adequate reserves or morale to withstand another concerted Ukrainian assault in eastern parts of the country.
Despite the superb performance of Ukrainian armed forces, President Zelensky said it was too early to say the tide of the war was turning, and that the outcome hinged on the swift delivery of foreign weapons to his country.
Putin, in his first comments on Ukraine’s counteroffensive, brushed off the advances with a smile but warned that Russia would respond more forcefully if its troops were put under further pressure.
Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg this morning, head of the British Armed Forces Admiral Sir Tony Radakin painted a bleak picture of Russian prospects in Ukraine and what this means for the Kremlin chief.
‘Putin is failing on all of his military strategic objectives. He wanted to subjugate Ukraine – that’s not going to happen,’ Radakin said.
‘He’s under pressure, his problems are mounting, his forces are thin on the ground… at a strategic level, this is a failure for Putin and Ukraine is fighting to maintain their integrity and to gain more of their country back,’ he added.