TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A city commissioner is calling on Sarasota to break off its nearly 30-year relationship with its sister city in Russia amid a growing wave of solidarity with Ukraine.
Commissioner Hagen Brody said he intends to seek the City Commission’s approval to terminate Sarasota’s relationship with Vladimir, Russia, its sister city since 1994.
Vladimir lies on the Klyazma River, about 111 miles northeast of Moscow. It’s one of Russia’s oldest communities with buildings surviving from the 12th century. It has a population of 346,922, according to 2012 figures from the United Nations.
Its relationship with Sarasota was established through Sister Cities International, a program founded in 1956 by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as a way to promote peace and prosperity through citizen diplomacy.
“The mission of Sister Cities International is a noble one,” Brody wrote in a letter to Miriam Kramer, the president of Sister Cities Association of Sarasota. “However, at some point, a relationship becomes so tortured that blindly continuing those relations is tantamount to condoning the conduct of the government that represents them. I feel we have past that point.”
Brady noted Vladimir is also the headquarters of the 27th Guards Vitebsk Red Banner Rocket Army, one of the three rocket armies within Russian Strategic Rocket Forces, a branch of the Russian Armed Forces, which controls Russia’s land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.
“The very ones that their leader [President Vladimir Putin] is threatening the western world with,” Brody told WFLA.
Russia is facing widespread fallout from its seven-day incursion into Ukraine. Roughly 874,000 people have fled the country, with the UN projecting at least 1 million refugees will flee.
Ukraine’s State Emergency Service said more than 2,000 civilians have died, but the claim was not verified.
“In my opinion, as representatives of our citizens horrified by this Russian aggression, we cannot overlook this unprovoked military invasion by continuing our association with Vladimir, Russia, as a Sister City of the City of Sarasota and should immediately dissolve the relationship,” Brody continued.
Brody said he plans to make the request during the city’s commission’s next regularly scheduled meeting on March 7.