Despite Zelensky's pleas, San Jose mayor won't cut ties with Russian sister city

Tara Campbell Image
Monday, June 6, 2022
SJ mayor won't cut ties with Russian sister city
San Jose's mayor says he will not cut ties with its sister city in Russia, Ekaterinburg, just days after Ukrainian Pres. Zelensky's plea.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose's mayor is holding his ground, saying he will not cut ties with its sister city in Russia, just days after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made a plea to several American cities, including San Diego and Chicago.

"What do those ties give to you? Probably nothing," said President Zelensky. "But they allow Russia to say that it is not isolated even after the start of its war."

Zelensky made the comments Friday in a video address to the U.S. Conference of Mayors, where he took direct aim at at San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo.

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"Some of the deadliest Russian rockets are manufactured in Ekaterinburg, which still, by the way, remains the sister city of San Jose," said Zelensky.

San Jose city council member Slyvia Arenas says enough is enough.

"To be called specifically to now we are remaining sister cities with cities that are murdering and committing genocide is just a tragedy," said Arenas, who led the charge back in March, putting a memo in front of her colleagues to terminate the relationship. But instead the council and the mayor voted to send a strongly worded letter.

"It was in the very earliest days in the war, so we didn't know about the crimes and genocide and now we know and we can't ignore that," said Arenas.

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The mayor didn't make himself available for an interview, instead in a statement saying in part: "Peace will likely only come when there is a regime change . . . which requires doing all we can . . to encourage Russian citizens to stand up for peace. That requires that we keep the lines of communication open."

"Nobody's telling San Jose city council not to keep the communication open, and to bring them the truth and information, said Natalyia Anon, co-founder of Hromada, a Bay Area Ukrainian nonprofit.

She spoke in front of city council in March and says it's one thing to keep communication open, but another to keep an official tie.

"To keep that relationship at the sister city level it means an affinity with the people that are producing the rockets that are killing Ukrainian civilians," said Anon.

Council member Arenas says she will put her plan forward again this week in hopes her colleagues are ready to get on board.

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