OXFORD city council has bowed to public pressure and set out to temporarily end its twinning link with the Russian city of Perm in protest at the invasion of Ukraine.

The decision, this evening, followed a week of pressure on the council to sever ties with the industrial centre – a hub of aviation engineering vital to the Russian war effort.

City council leader Susan Brown had, until then, refused to end the ties, threatening no action stronger than a letter expressing the council’s opposition to the invasion.

READ MORE: OPINION: Oxford-Perm twin axe an embarrassing U-turn by out-of-touch council

The U-turn followed growing anger among critics of the twinning link, some of whom had signed a petition against the bond.

The campaign was led by Prof Pawel Swietach, an Oxford University lecturer from Poland, who said the Perm link went against Oxford’s ‘moral compass’ and legitimised Russia’s actions by giving it a connection to a city with prestige among the international community.

Read more: Petition demands end to 'shameful' Perm link

More than a week into the war, the council has also announced it is to fly the Ukraine flag from the Town Hall.

Ms Brown said the twinning agreement with Perm would be on hold from Monday ‘until such time as Russia’s breaches of international law cease’.

Oxford Mail: Oxford's twin city in Russia, Perm, has been taped over. Picture: Liam Rice

She said tonight: “Oxford City Council utterly condemns the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian government led by President Putin. We are flying the Ukrainian flag to show that our thoughts and solidarity are with the Ukrainian people.

“Oxford is proud of being a welcoming city, and we are ready to play our part to support Ukrainian refugees. The Government must show more urgency on providing a Ukrainian refugee programme, and make clear what support local councils can give. The changes in current migration visas are welcome, but millions of people now need refuge not just migration.

“This is a tragedy not just for the people of Ukraine, but also Russian citizens plunged into this war against democracy, and we also want to give our support to those Russians who are risking their own safety to oppose the invasion.

“I also know there are Russians living in Oxford today who despise Putin, but are also now feeling concerned for their own safety. I would ask all Oxford residents to show them courtesy and respect during this difficult time.

“Our Lord Mayor wrote in strong terms to the Mayor of Perm condemning the invasion. We haven’t received a response to that letter. With the situation escalating and many thousands of lives being lost, we are, with a heavy heart, taking action to end our twinning agreement until such time as Russia’s appalling breaches of international law cease.

“Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people, and our Ukrainian residents in Oxford, at this incredibly difficult time.”

Prof Swietach said he had felt shame that Oxford had persisted with its links to Perm.

He instead proposed twinning with a Ukrainian city.

Oxford Mail: Firefighters survey the devastation caused by a missile strike in Kharkiv. Picture: PA

Destruction in Kharkiv

The council’s belated decision to halt twinning links with Perm followed a poll which showed almost 80 per cent of Oxford Mail readers wanted to see an end to the tie.

Our poll of more than 400 people found that 78 per cent of readers were opposed to the friendship link with the Russian industrial centre.

Oxford has been officially twinned with Perm, a centre of aircraft engineering near the Ural Mountains, since 1995.


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