COLORADO SPRINGS — Sister Cities International (SCI), the organization responsible for helping U.S. cities build relationships internationally, is urging its American members not to break ties with Russia partners.
In a letter to citizen diplomats, SCI expressed its understanding that American city leaders are upset and angered by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but urged leaders not to suspend sister city relationships.
“While suspending or ending a sister city relationship to register disapproval of a foreign government’s actions may seem, on the surface, like a positive policy protest action, it has the complete opposite effect – closing a vital and, ofttimes, last channel of communication with vulnerable or isolated populations,” SCI wrote.
FOX21’s finding of SCI’s letter comes one week after Colorado Springs city leaders chose to terminate the city’s relationship with its Russian sister city Smolensk.
“In light of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the City of Colorado Springs has indefinitely suspended its sister city relationship with Smolensk, Russia,” the city wrote. “We know that right now, there are Ukrainian soldiers and civilians alike sacrificing their own safety to protect their country and their way of life, and we recognize their bravery and commitment as we pray for Ukraine and hope for an immediate end to the invasion.”
Colorado Springs’ decision came amid Colorado’s supportive stance of Ukraine, led primarily by Gov. Jared Polis. Polis has expressed support for Ukraine several times and has made it a point to terminate any state relationships with Russia.
“Colorado will not stand for this attack on freedom and democracy,” Polis said. “…Colorado will welcome Ukrainian refugees, divest from any potential Russian state-owned assets, urge higher education institutions to review and reconsider any grants or projects they have with Russia and divest endowments from Russian owned assets while evaluating and terminating any state contracts with Kremlin owned entities. We will also be removing Colorado from the coverage of the Russian consular office in Houston.”
Although Colorado is no longer a member of the consular office, according to the U.S. – Russia Chamber of Commerce, over 60 American/Russian sister city partnerships remain around the country.
However, with the termination of Colorado Springs’ relationship with Smolensk, Colorado no longer has any Russian sister cities.
Colorado Springs’ Sister Cities
- Fujiyoshida, Japan (1962)
- Kaohsiung, Taiwan (1983)
- Smolensk, Russia (1993)
- Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (1994)
- Nuevo Casas Grandes, Mexico (1996)
- Bankstown, Australia (1999)
- Ancient Olympia, Greece (2014)
Pueblo’s Sister Cities
- Lucca Sicula, Sicily
- Chihuahua, Mexico
- Bergamo, Italy
- Weifang, China
- Puebla, Mexico
- Maribor, Slovenia
Denver’s Sister Cities
- Axum, Ethiopia
- Brest, France
- Chennai, India
- Cuernavaca, Mexico
- Karmiel, Israel
- Kunming, China
- Nairobi, Kenya
- Potenza, Italy
- Takayama, Japan
- Ulanbaatar, Mongolia