Wakefield formally severs ties with Russian city of Belgorod over Ukraine invasion

Wakefield Council has formally severed all ties with its Russian twin city following Vladimir Putin's bloody invasion of Ukraine.

By David Spereall
Thursday, 3rd March 2022, 2:40 pm

Councillors voted unanimously to end Wakefield's partnership with Belgorod, which was first forged in 1991 at the end of the Cold War.

Belgorod which is 50 miles from Moscow, and is itself close to the Ukrainian border, has reportedly been used to launch rocket attacks over the last week.

Council leader Denise Jeffery told colleagues on Wednesday that the atrocities being committed in Ukraine were "absolutely appalling".

Wakefield entered into a twinning arrangement with Belgorod in 1991 at the end of the Cold War, though the partnership has been "dormant" for many years, according to the council leader.

She said: "People in Ukraine are going through absolute hell.

"While we're sitting here, the people of Ukraine are fighting for their freedom and for their lives.

"We're seeing people being murdered and it's awful."

Coun Jeffery said the relationship between Wakefield and Belgorod had been "dormant" for some time and that the twinning arrangement hadn't been "followed through".

Belgorod is just a few miles from the Ukrainian border.

But she said it was right in the current climate to end the partnership immediately.

Conservative group leader Nic Stansby praised community groups in Wakefield for their "incredible response" in collecting donations for refugees affected by the crisis.

She said: "We wholeheartedly condemn the events going on in Ukraine and it's absolutely heartbreaking the images coming out on our screens every night.

"I want to say thank you to the groups around Wakefield who are collecting donations, which will be sent to Poland for the Ukrainian people."

Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Gordon said: "One thing I've found particularly disturbing the element of Russian disinformation peddling conspiracy theories and reasons trying to justify the invasion.

"I've seen people in community groups on Facebook trying to justify what's happening.

"I think the fact that we as a council together can go on record condemning what's happening is hopefully something the public will listen to, or at least I'd akcnowledge."

It's the second time in two years Wakefield has ended a relationship with one of its twin towns.

In 2020, the council severed ties with Nanning City in China, in response to the genocide of Uyghur Muslims in the country.

The arrangement had only been forged the previous year.

Local Democracy Reporting Service