City of Brussels suspends (but doesn’t cut) ties with Moscow

EuroActiv Politico News

Moscow and Brussels’ sister city relationship has been suspended — but not ended, Brussels Mayor Philippe Close said.

Close, the vice president of the Socialist Party, responded to a motion proposed Monday by Mathias Vanden Borre, municipal councillor and MP for the New Flemish Alliance party, to break the twinning between Brussels and Moscow, and to set up a new partnership with Kyiv.

During his speech at a municipal council meeting, Vanden Borre said his motion was supposed to “send a political signal to Russia, to Moscow that we do not tolerate aggression and war in Ukraine,” and to “see what more we can do to support and help the Ukrainian people.”

The motion was rejected with 27 votes against, 12 abstentions and only one vote in favor.

Close said the partnership between the two cities was just symbolic and “has never really been activated.” He concluded that “given that we have concrete exchanges with Kyiv and that we have suspended the twinning with Moscow, we do not support this motion.”

Brussels and Moscow have been sister cities since 1978.

This is not the first time sister cities have been the subject of debate since the start of Russia’s war on Ukraine. In May, the mayor of Melitopol told POLITICO he found it “unacceptable” that Berlin and other cities maintained ties with Russian cities despite the war.

However, some cities have curtailed relations with their Russian counterparts. Coventry, where the concept of sister cities was born, suspended its 80-year link with Volgograd in March to express its “horror at what is happening.” In the United States, at least 10 percent of cities have severed ties with their counterparts in Russia — including Dallas and Chicago.