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Oak Ridge considers resolution to dissolve relationship with Russian sister city

The resolution comes after Russia's attack on Ukraine and would end a nearly 30-year relationship between Oak Ridge and Obninsk.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn. — On Monday, the Oak Ridge City Council will vote on a proposal to dissolve its relationship with its sister city in Russia after the attack on Ukraine.

For almost 30 years, Oak Ridge has been a sister city with Obninsk, Russia through Sister Cities International, a nonprofit citizen diplomacy network, according to documents. 

In a memorandum, Oak Ridge City Manager Mark Watson said "the sister city relationships are established based on peace and understanding." 

However, he went on to say Russia's attack on Ukraine in February and the ongoing violence "has required the City of Oak Ridge to question the continuation of the sister city relationship with Obninsk."

A resolution submitted to the city council said the move does not reflect the city's relationship with the people of Obninsk, but rather comes as "the deliberate actions of the Russian government in its unprovoked and unjustified invasion of the nation of Ukraine cannot be overlooked."

“The City of Oak Ridge staunchly and vehemently denounces the death, devastation, and atrocities committed by the Russian government on the population of Ukraine, and as a result, has decided to formally dissolve the sister city alliance with Obninsk,” the resolution said in part.

Watson acknowledged Sister Cities International's desires for countries to maintain relationships during wartime, but said "in the interest of human dignity and freedom, a continued sister city relationship with our Russian city partners is not appropriate and hypocritical.”

He ended the resolution by recommending the "termination of the sister city agreement through formal written communication with both Obninsk and Sister Cities International." 

The resolution is the first item on the agenda for the city council meeting on Monday, March 28 at 6 p.m. A meeting agenda is available online.

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