Melbourne council cuts ties with Russian sister city over Ukraine war

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The City of Melbourne has severed ties with its sister city St Petersburg in protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The council unanimously moved to terminate the 34-year relationship on Tuesday night following calls from the Ukrainian community.

Protesters outside Melbourne Town Hall on Tuesday afternoon ahead of the vote.Credit: Nine News

It originally suspended its ties to St Petersburg in February last year in response to the Russian invasion.

The termination reflects community outrage at the atrocities being perpetuated against the Ukrainian people, Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece said.

“We very much hope that this is something which will be noted by the Russian people, something that is noted by Vladimir Putin as an expression of our condemnation of Russia,” he told the council.

“The atrocities must end here. At the City of Melbourne, we are doing everything we can – symbolic and more – to bring this horrible situation to end.”

The City of Melbourne has severed ties with its sister city St Petersburg.Credit:

Melbourne and St Petersburg established the partnership in 1989, when the Russian city was still known as Leningrad and before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Councillor Rohan Leppert also condemned the war in Ukraine but said the decision to end the sister city relationship was a challenging one.

“It is an important thing to be seen to be standing with the people of Ukraine and that’s why we do it,” he told the council.

“But I also want to acknowledge that there are peace-loving people in all communities and we also stand with them and we thank them.”

Lord Mayor Sally Capp also acknowledged Melbourne’s Russian community, saying many were supportive of the Ukrainians.

“The determination of councillors to cancel the sister city relationship has not been taken lightly,” she told the meeting.

“But this sends a very, very clear signal that we do stand with the people of Ukraine, and that we condemn all acts of war and violence and aggression.”

The protesters were calling for the sister city relationship to be terminated.Credit: Nine News

Earlier, dozens of protesters rallied outside Melbourne Town Hall calling for the sister city relationship to be terminated.

The Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations organised the protest, saying a continued suspension would not send a strong enough message to Russia.

Melbourne has a number of other sister cities including Japan’s Osaka, China’s Tianjin, Greece’s Thessaloniki, Italy’s Milan and Boston in the United States.


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