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U.S. ‘Sister Cities’ Sever Relationships to Counterparts in Russia

As U.S. cities make gestures of solidarity with Ukraine, the Russian invasion offers a test for the power of local relationships in an international conflict.

Demonstrators in Chicago protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Church on Feb. 27.  2022.

Demonstrators in Chicago protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in front of Saints Volodymyr and Olha Ukrainian Church on Feb. 27.  2022.

Photographer: Cheney Orr/AFP via Getty Images

Around the U.S. and around the world, city halls and other urban landmarks have been bathed in the blue and gold of the Ukrainian flag as an expression of support for the embattled nation following Russia’s invasion. 

Grocery store chains and state-owned liquor stores from Alabama to Idaho have pulled Russian products from their shelves, while several governors and state lawmakers have proposed divesting pension funds of Russian-controlled assets and banning state agencies from doing business with Russian state-owned firms. Multiple cities have turned to another lever of international diplomacy to send a message to Russian leader Vladimir Putin — the “sister city” relationships that link many similarly sized global municipalities.