NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander has requested that the city’s Sister City Association end their relationship with their Russian sister city. This comes hours after Gov. Glenn Youngkin called on the city to do that.
On Saturday evening, 10 On Your Side received the following statement from the Mayor’s office:
“Freedom and self-determination are engrained in Norfolk’s spirit, and we stand in support of a free and independent Ukraine. I am requesting the Norfolk Sister City Association to immediately end its relationship with Kaliningrad, Russia. “We continue to be inspired by the resilience and courage of the Ukrainian people and their leadership. Norfolk is proud to join many throughout the world who are rallying behind Ukraine, while calling out Russian President Vladimir Putin for his senseless, inhumane, and tyrannical acts of violent aggression against a sovereign and democratic nation.”
The move comes days after Russian troops launched a broad, three-pronged assault on Ukraine that brought explosions and set off air raid sirens to the country’s capital, Kyiv, and other cities, shattering any remaining hope that a military conflict would be avoided.
“The invasion of Ukraine by Soviet dictator Vladimir Putin cannot stand, and the people of the Commonwealth are ready to rally in opposition to this senseless attack on a sovereign nation and western ideals,” said Governor Youngkin. “Today, we are acting to show our solidarity with the Ukrainian people as they defend their country. And while these are important steps, it is incumbent upon President Biden to take a stronger, more decisive leadership position to end this war.”
In 1992, Kaliningrad, Russia became Norfolk’s fifth sister city. It is the westernmost exclave part of the Russian Federation with a population of about one million people.
Over the course of their partnership, there have been a variety of academic and social exchanges between the two cities. A variety of students and faculty from both Old Dominion University and Norfolk Public School have visited Kaliningrad.
The most recent exchange from Kaliningrad to Norfolk was canceled in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In addition to calling on the city of Norfolk to end their partnership, Youngkin also called on the city of Roanoke to end their partnerships with their Russian counterparts.
Youngkin also ordered the Department of General Services to review all contracts to determine what, if any, Virginia tax dollars are spent on goods and services from primarily Russian companies.
The Virginia Retirement System Board of Trustees and university endowment funds were also called to divest any and all holdings of the Russian Ruble and any and all securities of Russian companies.