Agenda item

Establishment of a Twin City Relationship With Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine

To (a) receive an address from the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine presenting a brief overview of their city, their city’s situation in respect of the current conflict in their country and their desire to establish twin city relations with Sheffield; and


(b) to authorise the Lord Mayor to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the city of Khmelnytskyi on behalf of the City Council and the citizens of Sheffield, and to observe the signing of the MoU by the Lord Mayor and the Mayor of Khmelnytskyi.



(Further information regarding the proposed city relations is set out in the report of the Executive Director, City Futures, published with this agenda.)





The Lord Mayor (Councillor Sioned-Mair Richards) welcomed to the meeting Mr. Oleksandr Symchyshyn (Mayor of Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine) and Mr. Mykola Vavryshchuk (Deputy Mayor of Khmelnytskyi), together with Ms. Tanya Klymenko, and invited Mr. Symchyshyn to address the Council.




Mr. Symchyshyn, with Ms. Klymenko acting as interpreter, provided a brief overview of their city, their city’s situation in respect of the current conflict in their country, and their desire to establish twin city relations with Sheffield.




Mr. Symchyshyn expressed his thanks to the people of the UK for the support and help provided to Ukraine during the conflict.  He added that today was the 2,094th day since his country was at war, and it was a war for democracy, for human rights and for the survival of Ukraine.   Conflict had first began almost nine years ago, but since February 2022 the lives of all Ukrainians had changed profoundly.  All Ukrainians have had to mobilise themselves and put aside their disagreements and unite to work to defend their country and its democracy.




Mr. Symchyshyn stated that he was honoured to be attending a meeting where the City Council was bestowing a great honour on one of its citizens, and reported that a similar Council meeting had recently been held in Khmelnytskyi, where honours were awarded to 94 distinguished citizens, with the youngest being 18 years old and the eldest being 58 years old.  Unfortunately, none of them were present at the meeting to receive their honours, as all of them had died in the war with Russia.  He added that one of the worst outcomes of the war was that the country was losing some of its best people.  Several days ago, Mr. Symchyshyn had returned from his latest visit to the front line of the war, travelling over 3,000 km, passing through many ruined villages and cities, in some places where not a single building has survived, and he had seen thousands of fresh graves.  He stated, however, that Ukrainians were not giving up and were not yielding, and that the war was bigger than Ukraine and Ukrainians were not just fighting for their own victory, they were fighting for freedom, for democracy and for human rights, the most basic right being the right to be alive – and that was why Ukraine would win this war.




Mr. Symchyshyn expressed sincere thanks for this opportunity to start this new co-operation and partnership between Khmelnytskyi and Sheffield.  He added that it was very important for his city to have this twinning agreement with a city in England given that the UK was one of the biggest supporters of Ukraine.  Today’s signing of the Memorandum of Understanding will signify to the citizens of Khmelnytskyi and beyond that there is hope for its future and that, despite the terroristic attacks, the most recent of which being the nine missiles which exploded in Khmelnytskyi, there is a way forward and support from all civilised countries.




He stated that the situation in Ukraine is currently difficult and every day there are attacks targeting civilian infrastructure, the aim being to deprive Ukrainians of electricity, water and heating.  However, what those terroristic attacks were achieving was to make Ukrainians more determined and more appreciative of the values of democracy and of a civilised and peaceful life.




Mr. Symchyshyn concluded his address by stating that, by signing the Memorandum of Understanding today, this will signal that you agree with us, believe in us and think the same as us, in that victory for Ukraine will mean victory for democracy, victory for the civilised world and hope for all that share those values.  He stated “Glory to Ukraine”.




At the conclusion of his address, Mr. Symchyshyn presented to the Lord Mayor a national flag of Ukraine signed by members of the Ukrainian armed forces who were currently fighting at the front line of the war, and which included a message of thanks to Great Britain for supporting Ukraine.




The Leader of the Council (Councillor Terry Fox) responded and thanked Mr. Symchyshyn, Mr. Vavryshchuk and Ms. Klymenko for attending the meeting and he acknowledged and appreciated the work that had gone into organising the twinning arrangements and organising the visit to Sheffield.  He stated that the City Council supported Ukrainians and in particular the citizens of Khmelnytskyi.  He could only imagine how difficult life was in their country at the moment, referencing the fact he was in a call with Mr. Vavryshchuk at the time when those missiles were hitting Khmelnytskyi.  He commented that he had visited many former battlefields in Europe and been moved by seeing the battle scars that had been left from previous conflicts and added that he couldn’t imagine just how difficult it would be to live through a conflict in progress.  Thus he therefore welcomed this opportunity to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding between the great cities of Sheffield and Khmelnytskyi to discuss trade, acknowledging Sheffield’s pride in its “Made in Sheffield” tag and Khmelnytskyi’s pride in its “Made in Khmelnytskyi” tag, and, along with the cities’ universities, to promote education and dialogue.  Also, the cultural experiences between the two cities can only, as mentioned by the Mayor of Khmelnytskyi, send a signal that democracy will, and should always, prevail, and it was important to get our two great cities to come together in a civic understanding.  Councillor Fox concluded by stating that Sheffield is striving to be a fair and inclusive city and the Council will not yield from that ambition, and that in our joint signing of the Memorandum of Understanding, in solidarity with Khmelnytskyi, it is hoped that not only in Sheffield and Khmelnytskyi, but also in Ukraine and across Europe, it will show that tyranny will not be tolerated.




The Lord Mayor invited other Members of the Council to speak, and additional contributions were made by Councillors Shaffaq Mohammed and Angela Argenzio.




It was then:-



RESOLVED UNANIMOUSLY:  On the motion formally moved by Councillor Terry Fox and formally seconded by Councillor Shaffaq Mohammed, that the Lord Mayor be authorised to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the city of Khmelnytskyi, Ukraine on behalf of the City Council and the citizens of Sheffield.





The Lord Mayor of Sheffield and the Mayor of Khmelnytskyi then signed the Memorandum of Understanding.




The Lord Mayor, in concluding the meeting, thanked the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Khmelnytskyi, and Ms. Klymenko, for their attendance.





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