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Tallahassee will soon decide whether to end its sister-city relationship with Krasnodar amid Russia’s war with Ukraine

Exterior of Tallahassee City Hall
Craig Moore
WFSU Public Media
Exterior of Tallahassee City Hall

Cities across the U.S. are starting to cancel their relationships with cities in Russia. Tallahassee could soon be on its way to doing the same. Wednesday, the city commission will take up a proposal to terminate the sister city relationship between Tallahassee and Krasnodar, Russia. The partnership has been in place for nearly 40 years, but as Russia continues to wage war with Ukraine, Tallahassee Mayor John Dailey said he believes ending the relationship will show Tallahassee stands in unity with the people of Ukraine.

“Obviously, we have not had much activity in the past couple of years, especially because of the COVID pandemic,” said Dailey, “but I think it’s appropriate, even if ceremonially, to sever the ties with the sister city program with our sister city in Russia.”

While it has not been as active in recent years, the relationship between Tallahassee and Krasnodar goes back to 1983, when it was first established. Since then, delegations have been hosted by both cities, and Tallahassee welcomed a group of doctors from Krasnodar as part of a teaching program at Tallahassee Memorial HealthCare.

“The program itself was mostly focused on building familiarity with both American and Russian cultures between the two sister cities,” said Eric Pate, the former secretary for the Tallahassee-Krasnodar program Board of Directors.

In 2008, Pate attended a leadership conference hosted in Krasnodar. The experience helped him develop a first-hand understanding of how the relationship keeps an open line of communication between people in the United States and in Russia. At the conference, he met a Russian journalist, whose colleague was killed by the Russian state.

“It was an interaction and a relationship that was unexpected, and really allowed us to see another side of Russian society.”

Yet Pate believes that cutting off the sister city relationship might not be the best action to show support for those impacted by the invasion.

“I do think that there’s an opportunity to think more critically about this relationship and how can we leverage this relationship to support the people of Ukraine,” said Pate, “and support the people of Krasnodar that are pushing back against Putin.”

Pate went on to suggest that the relationship could be more public, with Tallahassee expressing support for the people of Krasnodar while also condemning the war.

“This is Moscow’s war; this is not Krasnodar’s war.”

Tallahassee currently has six formal sister city relationships, including Krasnodar. The other relationships are with Sligo, Ireland, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles, Konongo-Odumasi, Ghana, Ramat-Hasharon, Israel, and Rugao, China.

The city commission will discuss this issue at their next meeting on Wednesday, March 9th, and will vote on whether to terminate the relationship.

Follow @bgrutherford99

Brett Rutherford is a reporter and news researcher at WFSU Pubic Media. From Riverview, Florida, he has earned both a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Florida State University. During his time at Florida State, he was a reporter within the sports department at WVFS, the student-run on-campus radio station. In 2020, he served as Sports Director during his senior year and hosted the weekly talk show Tomahawk Talk.

Email Brett: brutherford2@fsu.edu