06 July 2022, 21:21
War is man's true touchstone: how many twinning ties has Ukrainian forged since February 24

Foreign cities have become a real support for their Ukrainian twin cities. 

They send thousands of tons of humanitarian aidhelp Ukrainian refugees abroad, and condemn russia's war of conquest against Ukraine. Thus, 150 cities in more than 20 countries have already severed their twinning relations with more than 160 cities of russia. Moreover, foreign municipalities are ready to share with us all the difficulties of wartime and post-war period, so Ukrainian cities forge new twinning relations abroad. 

The Transparent Cities program analyzed how many new agreements on cooperation, friendship, or partnership were concluded between 50 Ukrainian (the first 50 cities of the Transparency Ranking) and foreign municipalities starting from February 24, 2022.

Brief results of the study:

  • During the full-scale war, the 50 Ukrainian cities studied concluded twinning or partnering agreements with 23 cities. Another 2 cities are preparing to sign agreements on cooperation and friendship with foreign municipalities, and 6 cities are discussing the possibility of concluding partnership agreements.
  • The largest number of new partner cities has Chernivtsi and Kyiv — 3 cities each (Düsseldorf, Mannheim, Metz; Hamburg, Madrid, Paris).
  • We have the largest number of new sister cities in France: 4 cooperation agreements have already been ratified and 1 is in the process of being signed.

In total, among the 50 Ukrainian cities studied, our analysts recorded 30 cases of concluding cooperation agreements, preparing for the ratification of documents, or discussing the establishment of cooperation with foreign municipalities. 

In number — 14 Ukrainian cities have 23 new twin cities or partners abroad: Dnipro, Drohobych, Zhytomyr, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Kyiv, Korosten, Mykolaiv, Odesa, Rivne, Kharkiv, Chervonohrad, Chernivtsi, Chernihiv. 

Another 2 cities — Volodymyr and Zhytomyr — are preparing to sign cooperation agreements with Malbork and the city of Vila Nova de Famalicão. Another 6 cities, including DrohobychLvivRivneNetishynUzhhorodKharkiv, are discussing the possibility of concluding partnership agreements with European and American cities.

It is worth noting that the total number of recorded cases of cooperation (30) differs from the number of new (23), future (2) and potential (6) partnerships, since Odesa has concluded a trilateral cooperation agreement with Miami and Miami Beach. This is regarded by analysts as one type of connection that is provided by 2 cities. 

The largest number of agreements have been concluded with cities in Germany (3 ratified agreements and 1 under discussion), Poland (3 ratified agreements and 1 in the process of preparation for signing), the USA (3 ratified agreements and 1 in the process of discussion) and France (4 ratified agreements and 1 in the process of preparation for signing).

Chernivtsi and Kyiv are record-breaking in terms of the number of new sister cities or partners. Thus, since February 24, the beginning of the large-scale armed aggression of Russia, these cities have relations with 3 friendly municipalities – Düsseldorf, Mannheim, and Metz with Chernivtsi, and Hamburg, Madrid, Paris — with Kyiv. Zhytomyr has 2 new sister cities (Gdynia, Pardubice), Kamianets-Podilskyi (Brantford, Hautmont), Rivne (East Brunswick, Federal Way). 

Why do cities need twinning ties?

Cities agree on cooperation in various areas, such as industry, IT, tourism, education, culture, HCS and solid waste management, and medicine. In addition, foreign municipalities are eager to provide humanitarian support to their Ukrainian twin cities, as well as to help with post-war reconstruction. Thus, the French Bourges almost immediately after the signing of the cooperation agreement helped Korosten evacuate 100 people from the city, including women and children. Lublin and Hamburg expressed their readiness to join the restoration of Kharkiv and Kyiv, respectively.

Foreign cities are the first to contact municipalities in Ukraine and offer to establish partnerships. In this way, the already mentioned Bourges became a partner of Korosten, and Poprad offered cooperation to Uzhhorod. 

It was not possible to record the emergence of new twinning ties in the Donetsk oblast, where active hostilities are taking place. We could not find information about the conclusion of agreements on friendship and cooperation with foreign municipalities by the cities of the region in open sources. At the same time, Gdańsk, despite the lack of a twinning status with Mariupol, is ready to help the city with reconstruction.

We are grateful to all foreign cities that stand side by side with their Ukrainian partners, helping to overcome the consequences of the war. Thanks to your support, our municipalities will once again be capable, rehabilitating the destroyed infrastructure and providing residents with basic needs. 

In turn, we recommend Ukrainian cities to expand the network of partnerships because such cooperation is only beneficial.  Below you will find tips from our team on how you can establish twinning ties or partnerships with foreign cities.

How we conducted the research 

The research was conducted between June 13 and July 6, 2022. The analysis was based on open sources data (official sites of city councils, Facebook pages, and telegram channels of local self-government bodies, the mayor, or the deputies, the media, the information portal of decentralization reform) on twinning ties of the TOP 50 most transparent cities of Ukraine based on the results of the 2021 Ranking, concluded after February 24 of the current year. 

Among the studied 50 cities are 20 oblast centers, and the cities themselves represent all 24 oblasts of Ukraine. Volyn oblast (Lutsk, Volodymyr, Novovolynsk), Dnipropetrovsk oblast (Dnipro, Kamianske, Nikopol, Pokrov, Kryvyi Rih, Pavlohrad), Donetsk oblast (Mariupol, Bakhmut, Pokrovsk, Kramatorsk), Ivano-Frankivsk oblast (Ivano-Frankivsk, Kalush, Kolomyya), Lviv oblast (Drohobych, Lviv, Chervonohrad), Khmelnytskyi oblast (Khmelnytskyi, Dunaivtsi, Kamianets-Podilskyi, Netishyn) are represented the most in the study. 

So, as we can see, Ukrainian cities are seeking opportunities to be more resilient and stronger. They are open to cooperation and new connections. The leadership of city councils understand that our foreign friends can significantly help Ukraine, both during the war and during the reconstruction that awaits us.

We urge all Ukrainian cities to expand their network of partnerships with foreign cities!

Tips on how to forge twinning relations 

  • To begin with, it is worth identifying areas of urban governance in which your municipality wants to work with another city — to improve efficiency, modernize, or share experience. 

For example, it can be either cooperation with an emphasis on environmental protection or design of green spaces, activities of HCS, creation of e-democracy tools, traffic management, etc, or the provision of humanitarian assistance, which is relevant in times of war in Ukraine.

The decision to establish partnerships with foreign cities can be made by both the city council and the executive committee. 

  • Next, you need to identify a city that can share experience or help. Of course, it will be best to visit the municipality of this city to better understand in which areas cooperation is possible. However, if a visit is not possible, you can send an initiative letter of intent to cooperate, in particular for the purpose of providing humanitarian assistance. 

There are no restrictions on choosing a future partner city or sister city, but you should be aware that this must be a bilateral collaboration, in which your city should also provide recommendations for effective municipal governance.

  • The next step is to develop and agree on a draft Twinning or Cooperation Agreement with the city you are seeking to partner with. The text of the agreement must necessarily have an explanatory note that justifies the need to establish friendly relations with another city. 
  • The final stage of establishing communication — mayors of cities or official delegations sign the relevant documents. 

And since then, two cities can exchange experiences on a specific area of urban governance or accept/deliver assistance.