RENO, Nev. – President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine called for several US cities to have sister cities in Russia in a video speech at the US Conference of Mayors meeting on Friday.
Mr. Zelensky, who spoke before the mayors’ meeting second only to Vice President Kamala Harris, criticized Chicago; Jacksonville, Fla.; Portland, Ore; San Diego and San Jose, California, to maintain sister city ties in Russia. He said those relationships should be severed.
“What do those ties give you? Probably nothing,” said Mr. Zelensky. “But they allow Russia to say that they are not isolated.”
Chicago announced earlier this year that it has suspendedbut does not end forever, its sister city’s relationship with MoscowHas been around since 1997. Local stores in San Jose report Earlier this year, city leaders decided maintain relationship between the sister city and Ekaterinburg, Russia. As of Friday, websites for sister city programs in Portland, City of San Diego and Jacksonville continues to list Russian partners.
Many U.S. municipalities have sister-city relationships in several countries. Although partnerships may include business and political exchanges, the relationships are primarily symbolic and are sometimes managed by local nonprofit organizations.
But Mr Zelensky, who spoke to mayors 100 days after Russia invaded his country, said it was wrong to give Russia even the slightest credit.
“Don’t make excuses; Not maintaining relations with Russia,” said Mr. Zelensky, whose speech received applause from mayors and city workers who had gathered in Reno, Nev. ”
Officials in Portland referenced a statement from Sister Cities International urging cities not to sever ties with their Russian counterparts. Officials in other US cities that Zelensky named did not immediately respond to requests for comment.