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Cincinnati-Kharkiv sister city partnership renewed during wartime

A silver haired man sits at a table with microphones before him. A dark haired man sits to the right, glancing at notes. Part of an American flag is in the background.
Kharkiv Mayor Igor Terekhov pauses in between remarks, during a ceremony.

Representatives from Cincinnati and Kharkiv have renewed the partnership between the two cities. Councilman Mark Jefferies and Sister City Partnership President Bob Herring were in the Ukrainian capital city Kyiv, with Kharkiv's mayor, Igor Terekhov.

"I'm really appreciating and want to bring the voice of gratitude to the people of the United States, for the government of the United States of America, for the tremendous support that they are giving to us," Terekhov says.

Since the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of last year, the Cincinnati Kharkiv Sister City Partnership has raised more than $500,000 for humanitarian relief efforts. The two cities first signed a partnership in 1989.

RELATED: Cincinnati officials are headed to Ukraine to renew sister city partnership with Kharkiv

Kharkiv is still under threat of bombardment, but its leaders are thinking ahead to the end of the war. Mayor Terekhov says he is looking forward to more cooperation.

"We will need to rebuild Kharkiv, our city and just right now, not waiting until the end of the war," he says. "We need to do everything possible — and even impossible — to attract investors, to attract partners in this recovery process."

Councilmember Mark Jefferies delivered a copy of the updated agreement that had been signed by Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval. The meeting was shared with Cincinnatians, including Pureval, via Zoom, Tuesday morning. "Genuinely, the people of Kharkiv are never far from our thoughts," Pureval says. "We will continue to stand with Kharkiv. We will stand with all the people of Ukraine as you continue your fight for freedom, and importantly … as you work to rebuild."

Cincinnati-Kharkiv Sister City Partnership President Bob Herring's counterpart, Iryna Bakumenko, says they came from one of the best places in the United States.

"For me it's a very special place, and for the people of Kharkiv," she says of Cincinnati. "For years, you have shown us that you're real friends; that you're with us in the times of happiness, in the times of hardships. I'm sure that with you, with your support, we will go through all the hardships, through all the difficulties and we will celebrate our great victory."

Kharkiv has been bombed since the beginning of the Russian invasion. Amnesty International says more than 600 civilians have been killed in Kharkiv since the start of the war.

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.