Ukraine invasion: Exeter considers ‘de-twinning’ from Russian city

Exeter Ukraine vigil
Vigils have been held in Exeter following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Exeter is considering cutting civil ties with a Russian city following the invasion of Ukraine.

Senior councillors will vote on suspending the city's link with Yaroslavl - which is based 160 miles north-east of Moscow - at a meeting next week.

The two were formally twinned in 1990 and have enjoyed a positive civil relationship, with exchange trips held every other year.

Council leader Phil Bialyk, who has family in Ukraine, said he had thought “long and hard” about the decision.

Council leader Cllr Philip Bialyk has family in Ukraine.

‘Cannot stand quietly by’

Cllr Bialyk said: “I am proud of my Ukrainian heritage and so you will not be surprised to hear that I have watched the unfolding news of the Russian government’s invasion with horror.

“I cannot stand quietly by and do nothing and so I wish to raise an urgent item for consideration at this evening’s meeting relating to the city’s on-going relationship with its Russian twinned city of Yaroslavl.

“I have thought long and hard about this, particularly bearing in mind the friendship and good relationships we have enjoyed with the people in Yaroslavl. However, I cannot condone the actions of the Russian government.”

A cathedral in Yaroslavl, which was twinned with Exeter in 1990. Credit: Richard Maschmeyer/Zuma Press/PA Images

The suspension will go before the full council when it meets on Thursday, 10 March.

Plymouth City Council, meanwhile, has confirmed its twinned link with the Russian city of Novorossiysk will not be revoked.

A spokesperson said last week: “Following the Novichok poisoning on UK soil in March 2018, Plymouth City Council agreed to revoke any invitations to Russian officials.

“However, we have no immediate plans to rescind our friendship with the people of Novorossiysk, our twin city, and punish them for the barbaric actions of their government.”

The city’s iconic Smeaton’s Tower was lit up in yellow and blue on Thursday, the colours of the Ukrainian flag, while the council has condemned Russia’s attack.”

  • LDRS reporting by Philip Churm.