In this Sept. 21, 2023, file photo, President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden welcome President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky and his wife Olena Zelenska to the White House in Washington, D.C. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

(WASHINGTON) — The White House on Wednesday confirmed that Ukraine’s first lady and Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s widow were invited to the State of the Union but declined to attend.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre declined to provide details.

The Washington Post reported that the White House intended to seat Olena Zelenska and Yulia Navalnaya near first lady Jill Biden but that the presence of Navalny’s widow caused discomfort for the Ukrainians because of his reported past statements suggesting that Crimea, which Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed in 2014, belonged to Russia, even while condemning Putin’s aggression.

When asked how President Joe Biden is going to address foreign policy issues in Thursday’s State of the Union address and whether he’s going to press House Republicans to support more Ukraine aid, she said: “The president’s going to continue to make his case that House Republicans need to move forward. The speaker needs to put the national security supplemental on the floor.

“We know that it would get overwhelming support … we can’t let politics get in the way of our national security, so, the president is going to make that clear,” she said.

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