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Kyiv, Berlin strike twin town deal as Mayor Klitschko visits

September 14, 2023

The German and Ukrainian capitals marked their new partnership in Berlin, where Mayors Vitali Klitschko and Kai Wegner met at the Brandenburg Gate. "Together we are much stronger than alone," said Klitschko.

Berlin Interim Mayor Kai Wegner (r) and Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko (l) at the famous Brandenburg Gate
Berlin's Kai Wegner (r) greeted Vitali Klitschko (l) at the famous Brandenburg Gate before the two headed for city hallImage: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/picture alliance

Berlin Governing Mayor Kai Wegner welcomed his Ukrainian counterpart Vitali Klitschko of Kyiv to the German capital Thursday with the two meeting at the Brandenburg Gate before heading to city hall to sign documents officially making the two capitals sister cities or twin towns.

Wegner said there was no more suitable city for a partnership than Kyiv, adding, "Freedom will be victorious. Freedom is stronger than any aggression."

Recognizing the broader implications of Ukraine's stand in the face of Russia's war of aggression, Wegner said, a peaceful future in Europe," is only possible with a free and territorially sovereign Ukraine."

Klitschko, who is well-known in Germany having lived there as a professional boxer for years, said, "We are fighting for our future, we are fighting for democratic values, for human rights — and we see our future as part of the European family."

"It is vitally important for us to know that we are not alone," he said. "Together we are much stronger than alone."

Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko (l) and Berlin Interim Mayor Kai Wegner (r) hold up twin town documents at Berlin's city hall
Mayors Klitschko and Wegner signed official partnership documents at Berlin's Rotes Rathaus city hall Image: Sebastian Gollnow/dpa/picture alliance

Moscow one of Berlin's 18 twins, but status currently frozen

Klitschko has used his renown as a favorite son in Germany to seek assistance for his country's fight since Russian forces invaded in February 2022, working as an important conduit by meeting high-ranking German politicians in Kyiv as well in Berlin when Ukrainian representatives grew frustrated by what they saw as a lack of urgency from the government of Chancellor Olaf Scholz, particularly on the issue of weapons deliveries.

With Thursday's document signing, Kyiv became Berlin's 18th partner city. Berlin's partnership with the Russian capital Moscow has been temporarily suspended as a result of the Kremlin's attack on neighboring Ukraine.

On Friday, Klitschko will travel to Münster. There he will attend the Westphalian Peace Conference, an international confab of political, business and science representatives engaged in analyzing the implications of Russia's war in Ukraine.

The western German city is famous for having hosted a similar conference that concluded with the signing of the Peace of Westphalia that ended the Thirty Years' War in 1648.

Vitali Klitschko: 'We need defensive weapons'

js/msh (AFP, Reuters)