Zelensky slams U.S. mayors for not ending sister-city relationships with Russia

    President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine spoke via video to the United States Conference of Mayors in Reno, Nevada last Friday. During his speech he called out several American cities for failing to end their sister-city relationships with Russian cities. Some cities have suspended their relationships with sister-cities in Russia but that isn’t good enough. Zelensky wants the mayors to sever their relationships altogether.

    Mr. Zelensky, who spoke to the gathering of mayors just after Vice President Kamala Harris, criticized Chicago; Jacksonville, Fla.; Portland, Ore.; San Diego and San Jose, Calif., for maintaining sister-city ties in Russia. He said those relationships should be severed.

    “What do those ties give to you? Probably nothing,” Mr. Zelensky said. “But they allow Russia to say that it is not isolated.”

    I hadn’t thought about sister-cities relationships after Putin’s invasion into Ukraine but Zelensky makes a good point. To paraphrase a Trump quote, American mayors could be asked, “What the hell do you have to lose?” Putin is busy losing a war in Ukraine (maybe) and Russian officials are busy worrying about the future of their cities in the aftermath of Putin’s aggressive land grabs in Ukraine. Will Russian citizens ever rise up and overthrow Putin? I wouldn’t hold my breath.

    Chicago announced earlier this year that it was suspending, but not permanently ending, its sister-city relationship with Moscow, which had been in place since 1997. Local outlets in San Jose reported earlier this year that city leaders decided to maintain a sister-city relationship with Ekaterinburg, Russia. As of Friday, websites for the sister-city programs in Portland, San Diego and Jacksonville continued to list Russian partners.

    But Mr. Zelensky, who spoke to the mayors 100 days after Russia invaded his country, said it was wrong to give Russia even the smallest bit of added credibility.

    “Don’t make any excuses; don’t maintain relations with Russia,” said Mr. Zelensky, whose speech received applause from the mayors and city employees who had gathered in Reno, Nev. “And please don’t let those who became murderers call your cities their sister cities.”

    Sister-city relationships are often largely symbolic. Cities large and small develop such relationships with other cities around the world. They can provide business and cultural exchanges. My own city of Houston lists nineteen sister-cities around the world, including one with Tyumen, Russia made in 1995.

    US mayors can help show that Russia is being isolated from Western countries by severing ties with its cities. It’s a shame the people of Russia have to suffer for the actions of Mad Vlad but that is what is happening. Would the people in Tyumen suffer if Houston severed its relationship with them? It’s unlikely that any damage would be done. After the war and hopefully after the end of Putin’s evil reign, a renewed relationship could begin.

    Zelensky spoke to the mayors after Kamala did. As usual there was plenty of cringe during her speech. Our sister publication Red State has a post by colleague Becca Lower and I encourage you to read it for yourself. Kamala sounds as she always does – uttering nonsense and trying to pass it off as wise words to the audience. Then she added a little cackle to mix. Becca calls it “cringetastic” and that’s a good word to use.

    No one ever knows what she’s talking about. She concentrated on gun violence talk and spending more taxpayer money, along with blaming Putin for Biden’s domestic failures. Same old, same old. This administration is clueless and we’re all screwed as long as they occupy the White House.

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