The ripple effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have reached Sarasota City Hall with a letter from a commissioner seeking to end a 27-year-old sister-city agreement and a request to light Ringling Bridge with the colors of the embattled nation.
Hagen Brody on Monday morning sent a letter to Sister Cities of Sarasota President Miriam Kramer, informing her of his intention to add to the March 7 commission meeting agenda an item calling for the end of Sarasota’s relationship with Vladimir, Russia, a city of about 345,000 people located 120 miles west of Moscow.
Brody also copied the letter to mayors of Jacksonville, Gainesville, Tallahassee and St. Petersburg to consider similar action with their Russian sister cities, saying the five Florida cities should be in "solidarity" with one another.
Sarasota and Vladimir became sister cities in 1994.
“The global norms and mutual respect for nations and citizens has been shattered by the recent and ongoing Russian assault upon Ukraine,’’ Brody wrote. “A country that posed no threat and is drastically outmatched militarily, placing Ukrainian service members and civilians in the impossible predicament of defending their homeland to a near-certain death or giving it up to an invader."
Brody also referenced a Russian military missile headquarters is based in Vladimir. “Those same forces currently threaten the civilized world.’’
In a written response, Kramer opposed the effort: “Trying to cancel a connection that is pro-peace and pro-cultural understanding is the worst move possible. It mocks the large numbers of Russians who have risked arrest to protest this terrible war. It mocks our friendships with the Sister Cities organization in Vladimir on a person-to-person level.”
Commissioner Liz Alpert also requested an add to the March 7 meeting agenda discussion of asking Florida Department of Transportation to illuminate Ringling Bridge in the yellow and blue of the Ukrainian flag. The state agency lit the Sunshine Skyway in similar colors over the weekend.
Russian President Vladimir Putin on Feb. 24 ordered massed troops to invade Ukraine, a military move that included missile attacks and air raids. U.S. defense officials say Ukrainian forces are slowing the Russian advance better than expected, according to wire service reports.
In addition to Vladimir, Sarasota is a sister city to eight municipalities around the world: Treviso, Italy; Xiamen, China; Merida, Mexico; Rapperswil-Jona, Switzerland; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Perpignan, France; Tel Mond, Israel and Dunfermline, Scotland.