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Cincinnati has not heard from partners in Kharkiv

CINCINNATI — The president of the Cincinnati Kharkiv Sister City Partnership appeared before City Council Wednesday with a request. Bob Herring asked officials to support the Ukrainian people in whatever way they can — providing a safe haven to refugees should they come to Cincinnati, and publicly affirming the city's partnership with the people of Kharkiv.

Herring keeps in contact with partners in Kharkiv by using the messaging platform ‘WhatsApp.’ They usually communicate daily, but Herring said he has not heard from his friends since attacks on the city intensified.

“They generally let us know in the morning, Cincinnati time,” Herring said. “So that’s not a good sign. Not sure what that means, if they’re still in the bomb shelters, in basements because of the bombardment and fighting or if something more tragic has taken place, we don’t know at this point.”

The last time he did hear from his partners, Herring said there was great concern for their safety.

“They were scared," Herring said. "Bombs were dropping, fighting was occurring in the streets, running low on food, running low on water."

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, more than 2,000 Ukrainian nationalists and soldiers have died. Oleg Sinehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, said 21 people had been killed and at least 112 had been wounded over the previous 24 hours.

“I don’t think I have the words to describe it," Herring said. "To see the bombs exploding over Kharkiv to Kyiv — places where I’ve been, streets I’ve walked. It’s really tough to hear that.”

Herring said the courage Ukrainians have shown gives him hope.

“Belief that they will do everything that they can to survive and to see this through. Certainly lets us know that they’re not giving up. They’re not laying down. Whatever we can do to support them. That’s what we're called to do.”

Russia and Ukraine said Wednesday that they were prepared to hold talks for the second time since the invasion began. The Associated Press reported talks are expected to take place Thursday in Belarus, though there appears to be little common ground between the two sides.

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