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Saratoga Springs mayor participates in call with Ukrainian counterparts

Ron Kim speaks in Saratoga Springs
Lucas Willard

City leaders in Ukraine recently held a Zoom call with municipal leaders in cities across the world to discuss the Russian invasion and to implore local leaders to support the resistance in any way they can. The mayor of Saratoga Springs was one of the participants.

The Ministry for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, in partnership with a number of international non-profits, is hosting a series of online conferences to share information on the Russian invasion.

In a Zoom call last week, leaders of Ukrainian cities urged global counterparts to implore their countries to continue supporting Ukraine, under siege for over a month.

Mayor of Kyiv and President of the Association of Ukrainian Cities Vitali Klitschko had strong words for the international community. He spoke through an interpreter.

“If you had acted earlier, if you had provided us with us support in terms of weaponry, maybe things would be different today. A month has passed and we still need your help. We still need more weaponry because we are not only protecting our women and children, but we are protecting each and every Ukrainian, because it’s the biggest war after the Second World War. And it’s going to be everybody’s war. If you believe this is not your war, you’re making a mistake. It’s going to be your war too,” said Klitschko.

The call came days after footage revealed atrocities committed by Russian soldiers in the city of Bucha.

Bucha Mayor Anatoliy Fedoruk also spoke through an interpreter.

“After the 31st of March, we found a mass grave in our town. Two hundred and eighty civilians were buried in this mass grave. They were shot by the Russian troops and buried there,” said Fedoruk.

Like other leaders on the call, Fedoruk welcomed international economic sanctions on Russia but added more direct help is needed.

“It’s not enough for us. We want the criminals to be punished. We want them to be held accountable,” said Fedoruk.

The leaders showed graphic footage of bombed buildings, destroyed tanks, body bags, graves, and burned out vehicles in Bucha.

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante was among the international mayors on the call.

“I would like to salute your bravery and your resilience and your resistance that you demonstrate every day. I cannot even imagine the burden you carry on your shoulders. Our heart is with you,” said Plante.

The only official from the Capital Region to participate in the call was Saratoga Springs Mayor Ron Kim.

“I think one of the cities I noticed was about the size of Saratoga Springs. Bodies strewn along the streets. And that hits home because that could happen anywhere,” said Kim.

Kim said he was asked by Ukrainian officials to reconsider the Spa City’s sister-city relationship with Chekhov, Russia. The partnership has been in place since 2001.

“The counsel general in New York for Ukraine had asked us to review that, and so I decided to set a public hearing to get people’s input on this,” said Kim. “And so on the 19th we’ll hear from our public and get ideas on also how we can help the people of Ukraine.”

The next regular Saratoga Springs city council meeting is Tuesday, April 19th.

Lucas Willard is a reporter and host at WAMC Northeast Public Radio, which he joined in 2011.
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