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A month after Russian invasion, Cincinnati's contact with Ukrainian sister city has dimmed, but support has not

A man passes by a destroyed building following a Russian attack, in center Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 24, 2022.
Efrem Lukatsky
A man passes by a destroyed building following a Russian attack, in center Kharkiv, Ukraine, Thursday, March 24, 2022.

Russia invaded Ukraine a month ago, and members of the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership say they haven't had a lot of contact with friends in the war zone. Bob Herring says when the war started, there were a few messages from the eastern Ukrainian city.

"We haven't heard much in the last 10 days," he says. "The assumption is they're on the road, heading west, or they're pre-occupied, understandably, with finding shelter and food and making sure they're safe. We have had one contact from a person who made it to Slovakia, but that's about it."

Herring says he recognizes some of the buildings damaged by the war in Ukraine. He's been to Kharkiv and knows some of the scenes in news footage.

"The rebuilding is going to take years and an untold amount of money. We'll need a Marshall Plan to help rebuild Ukraine," he says. "That's based on the assumption that the Ukrainians will be successful in defending their country."

Herring says he wonders if friends from Kharkiv will return after the war, and if the Russian government will do anything to help rebuild. Kharkiv is only about 30 miles from the Russian border, but has not fallen to the invaders. Herring says that's a testimony to the Ukrainian army and civilians who are helping.

Local support for Ukraine hasn't dimmed. Herring says his position as president of the Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership has become almost a full-time job, answering calls and emails.

"People have called and sent notices about gatherings, prayer services. All Saints Episcopal Church in Pleasant Ridge is hosting one. Christ Church Cathedral Downtown is hosting one this Sunday," he says. "And there will be words from Kharkiv, from the folks we know in Kharkiv as part of that ceremony."

Herring says a lot of people have asked about making donations and the Partnership is preparing to announce a fundraising effort next week.

Bill Rinehart started his radio career as a disc jockey in 1990. In 1994, he made the jump into journalism and has been reporting and delivering news on the radio ever since.