NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The Norfolk Sister City Association says it’s not ready to completely sever ties with its Russian sister city, Kaliningrad, as Moscow’s invasion continues in Ukraine.
However, the association says it will place a hood over the Kaliningrad directional marker at Town Point Park as a symbol of their support for Ukraine. The hood will remain in place as long as Russia is occupying the country.
Kaliningrad has been among Norfolk’s sister cities — which are in 10 different countries across the world — since 1992. It was the fifth sister city to be named.
The Norfolk Sister City Association made the announcement about its relationship with the Russian city Monday in a letter to Norfolk Mayor Kenny Alexander and the rest of City Council.
Both Alexander and Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin called on the association to end the relationship on Saturday and Russian forces continued to press into Ukraine from multiple angles. Explosions and sirens rang out in various cities, including the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.
The association wrote: “The mission of Sister Cities International is to promote peace through mutual respect, understanding and cooperation — one individual, one community at a time. The value of face-to-face meetings and personal relationships is that it changes more than just the lives of individuals but communities.”
Additionally, the association said the relationship with Kaliningrad has “waned over the years” and is currently one of the least active on the list of sister cities. The Kaliningrad Sister City Committee has not had a chair for more than a year.
At the end of the letter, Norfolk Sister City Association President Marguerite Inscoe said the decision to establish or break a relationship with a sister city is ultimately up to Norfolk City Council.