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Sister cities lose touch during war

By August 18, 2022No Comments
The sister city agreement, signed by Andriy Fisak, the former Mayor of Nikopol in Ukraine, and Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers in September 2018, has been disrupted since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. Aalbers has not kept in touch with the current Nikopol mayor since they exchanged letters shortly after the outbreak of war. Meridian Source File Photo

 

All communication between the sister cities of Lloydminster and Nikopol, Ukraine, has turned quiet since the last exchange of letters between the two mayors.

Lloydminster Mayor Gerald Aalbers says he received a reply from Nikopol Mayor Yevhen Yevtushenko this spring thanking him for sending the city’s thoughts and prayers after Russia invaded his country.

“We haven’t heard a lot more since,” said Aalbers, who added no one from Nikopol has reached out to the Border City for help since war broke out on Feb. 24.

The Kyiv Independent published a two-line story noting Yevtushenko reported Russian forces opened fire on the city overnight on Aug. 14. No further information was provided.

Yevtushenko and other municipal authorities in Nikopol have repeatedly accused Russian troops stationed at a nearby nuclear power plant of shelling the city, knowing Ukrainian forces there are unlikely to fire back.

Aalbers says the war has superseded the intent of the agreement signed in 2018 for both cities to invest in each other through trade, sports and cultural exchanges, to supply requests and shipments on a national level.

“We know Canada has stepped up in a few fashions and sent equipment and things like that,” said Aalbers.

“We’re very excited the government of Canada is supporting Ukraine as they fight for their freedom.”

This month, the RCMP reported they have seized about $413 million worth of Russian assets in compliance with economic sanctions since the start of the war.

Aalbers says Andriy Fisak, the mayor of Nikopol in 2018, paid a visit to Lloydminster to sign the sister city agreement that led to some used firefighting equipment being sent to his city via Edmonton.

“We were able to piggyback and send equipment to their fire department that was certainly useable for them,” he explained.

Aalbers says he hasn’t kept in touch with mayor Yevtushenko due to the language barrier between the two leaders and the time difference in war-torn Nikopol.

“We haven’t actually had a chance to have serious discussion either in person or somewhere where there is an interpreter,” he said.

Aalbers says he hopes to pay a return visit to Nikopol one day and thinks his best shot is to hop onboard with a trade mission when Ukraine is at peace again.

“Once things are resolved with Ukraine there’s an opportunity for an economic trade mission working with the governments of Saskatchewan or Alberta, or both. I think that would be the opportunity to try to take advantage of,” said Aalbers.

“An economic trade mission would play a key role in the economic rebuilding process.”

Lloyd residents can do their part to support humanitarian war efforts in Ukraine by donating to the Ukrainian Canadian Congress or the Canadian Red Cross.