First Selectman David Bindelglass toured the ruins and devastation of Easton’s sister city Sviatohirsk in Ukraine. His visit to the warn-torn city was announced in a press release issued Tuesday morning by Ukraine Aid International, which helped forge Easton’s sister city connection with Sviatorhirsk in March 2023.

Bindelglass was joined in Ukraine by Westport First Selectwoman Jennifer Tooker and Westport Police Chief Foti Koskinas. Westport has established a sister city partnership with the city of Lyman, also in Donetsk Oblast. 

Ukraine Aid International called Bindelglass and Tooker’s visit an historic and “momentous event that unfolded just kilometers away from the front lines, marking the first-ever delegation of U.S. officials at any level to set foot in the liberated territories in Donetsk, igniting a new era of cross-cultural collaboration and friendship.” 

In Ukraine, Bindelglass met with Sviatohirsk Mayor Volodymyr Ribalkin and Police Chief Ruslan Cimbal as they surveyed “the widespread destruction inflicted upon this town renowned for its natural beauty and cultural heritage, including the post office, the music school, the city hall, and the Lavra, a revered religious site of pilgrimage for Ukrainians,” the press release stated.

“Sviatohirsk and Easton are so much alike,” Bindelglass stated in the press release. “Mayor Ribalkin and I were discussing how Sviatohirsk had more trees than people, and how that is a key part of the town’s natural beauty, and I was thinking, that is just like Easton. I am in awe at the way Mayor Ribalkin is managing his town, with no office and no staff, in the face of this horrific destruction. His ingenuity and calm is amazing.” 

The U.S. dignitaries were accompanied by Ukraine Aid International cofounders Brian Mayer, Liz Olegov and Marshall Mayer. The delegation had a unique opportunity to assess the dire infrastructure situation in Lyman and Sviatohirsk where they “observed firsthand the ecological disaster caused by the accumulation of trash and debris in Lyman, the destruction of schools, the bombing of railways, and municipal buildings reduced to ruins,” the release stated.

The U.S. delegation’s trip concluded with a summit in Sviatohirsk where the two towns cemented their sister city partnerships.

Easton is aiming to raise $300,000 to support the sister city partnership with Sviatohirsk. Tax-deductible donations can be made by credit or debit card, check or wire by visiting

Donors supporting the Easton-Sviatohirsk sister city partnership should choose the “Easton – Sviatohirsk Sister City” designation on the donation page, or write “Easton” in the memo line of a check or wire.

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