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RUSSIA-UKRAINE CONFLICT

Volunteers, Rep. Kaptur send warm clothes to Ukraine

'Our goods are destined for the innocent people who are barely surviving,' Miss Kaptur said

  • CTY-russia06p-Diane-Ardner-and-Elizabeth-Balint

    Diane Ardner, left, and Elizabeth Balint, right, with the Great Lakes Consortium, go through donated coats, shoes and hats to be packaged and delivered to the war zone in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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  • CTY-russia06p-kaptur

    U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) points to the war zone in Kharkiv, Ukraine, where Russia has invaded, to show where donated items will be delivered, today at the Common Space Center for Creativity.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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  • CTY-russia06p-Martin-Zagy-and-Shakara-McCullough

    Volunteers Martin Zagy, left, and Shakara McCullough, right, react to finding a numbered box that was at the end of the pile that will be heading to Kharkiv, Ukraine.

    The Blade/Amy E. Voigt
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With Russia again putting military pressure on its neighbor Ukraine, U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) promoted an effort Monday to send warm clothes and shoes to victims of the Russia-backed separatists’ aggression.

Miss Kaptur, whose maternal grandparents emigrated from Ukraine, contributed a box of clothing and a check to a local group that collected donations to ship into a war-torn part of that country.

“Our goods are destined for the innocent people who are barely surviving,” Miss Kaptur said.

The group met at Common Space Center for Creativity on South Reynolds Road.

The items will be delivered to Kharkiv, Ukraine, by the international shipper, Meest Inc., whose representative, Oleh Osypov, was on hand. Miss Kaptur said it is difficult to get items through to the targeted recipients.

The longtime congressman is a founder of the Ukraine Caucus in Congress. Last week, she and three colleagues — two of them from the majority Republican side of the aisle — introduced a resolution calling on Russia to stop violating the agreed-upon cease-fire and stop the violence in eastern Ukraine.

“We thought it was very significant that on the day after our President talked to President Putin, the shelling started again,” Miss Kaptur said.

Miss Kaptur’s contribution was a personal check for $500 and a 31-pound box containing T-shirts, windbreakers, and women’s clothing, a spokesman said.

Russia’s renewed pressure on Ukraine comes as President Trump flirts with a warmer relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The President is said to be seriously considering dropping economic sanctions imposed by former President Barack Obama after Russia invaded and seized Crimea, a part of Ukraine, in 2014.

Miss Kaptur said the war on Ukraine is retaliation by Mr. Putin for the sanctions.

“I have to say President Trump has been very careless in the types of statements he’s made regarding Russia,” Miss Kaptur said.

On Saturday, Mr. Trump said he was willing to work with Kiev and Moscow to resolve the separatist conflict in eastern Ukraine after a telephone call with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.

It followed fresh artillery attacks in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which broke a lull in shelling at a frontline hot-spot that had raised hopes the conflict’s worst escalation in months was waning.

“We will work with Ukraine, Russia, and all other parties involved to help them restore peace along the border,” Mr. Trump said in a White House statement after talking to Mr. Poroshenko.

Earlier, Ukrainian military and Russia-backed separatists accused each other of launching a new wave of shelling. The past week has seen a flare-up in hostilities in which more than 40 people have been killed in government-held and rebel-held areas, the Associated Press reported.

The Kremlin has denied that it has fueled the conflict by supporting separatists with troops and weapons.

The shipment is being organized by the Great Lakes Consortium for International Training and Development, which operates on grants it wins to provide international assistance, much of it from the State Department.

Elizabeth Balint, the project manager, said the lineup of large cardboard boxes Monday at Common Space will be the third shipment in the past year.

Ms. Balint said the shipment’s focus is on warm clothes and shoes for people who fled the two provinces that have had the heaviest fighting.

She said Miss Kaptur paid for the cost of the first shipment through her foundation, Anastasia Fund, named after her mother.

Contact Tom Troy: tomtroy@theblade.com or 419-724-6058 or on Twitter @TomFTroy.

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