Angelina Jolie visits western Ukraine

The Hollywood actress and UN goodwill ambassador met fans and refugees in the city of Lviv

Angelina Jolie was seen on the streets of Lviv in western Ukraine on Saturday, where she spoke to fans in a coffee shop and met people displaced by the country’s ongoing conflict with Russia. Jolie has worked as a goodwill ambassador for the United Nations Refugee Agency for many years, but is reportedly in Ukraine on a personal trip.

Jolie was spotted signing autographs in a cafe and meeting refugees at a railway station. A spokesperson for the actress added that she also visited orphaned and displaced children at a hospital, ITV reported.

Jolie and her entourage were seen running during an air raid alert at one moment, even though no missile strikes were reported in Lviv on Saturday. Situated within western Ukraine, just 70 kilometers from the Polish border, Lviv has been spared the intense fighting seen in eastern and southern Ukraine.

Russia has launched a number of missile strikes in the area, however. A military installation in the city was hit earlier this month, and a training center hosting foreign ‘mercenaries’ some 30 kilometers away was struck in March.

Although Jolie has worked with the UN Refugee Agency for years as an envoy, her spokesperson said that the trip to Ukraine was a “private humanitarian fact-finding mission focused on the needs of children.” During the height of the Syrian Civil War in 2013, Jolie made a similar trip to meet Syrian refugees in Lebanon, and in 2018 met groups of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Iraq.

Her visit to Lviv came days after UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres traveled to Kiev to meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

READ MORE: Explosions rock Kiev during UN chief’s visit

Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February, following Kiev's failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-brokered Minsk Protocol was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.

The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.

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