City Council to weigh a resolution establishing a cooperative agreement between two municipalities to help mobilize expertise, philanthropy, and trade

Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly today announced the establishment of a new working group to rally resident support for Trostyanets, a Ukrainian city that survived 31 days of Russian occupation and is struggling to recover from the effects of the ongoing Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Mayor Kelly met Trostyanets Mayor Yuri Bova at the 2023 Cities Summit of the Americas in April, when five Ukrainian mayors came seeking help from their American counterparts, and both mayors resolved to explore relations between the two cities consistent with Chattanooga’s other existing sister city relationships.* Such cultural and economic exchanges would also give the people of Chattanooga the opportunity to help the war-torn town recover and rebuild, as well as open up new cross-Atlantic relationships and opportunities for economic development and trade.

No city tax dollars are involved in the effort.

“Chattanoogans have been inspired by Ukraine’s courage and determination throughout their fight for freedom from Russian aggression, and I have been asked many times since the beginning of the war, ‘Tim, how can we help?’” said Mayor Kelly. “I believe that publicizing the story of Trostyanets is a start, and by setting up a resident-led effort to determine the best way to expand our engagement and help them rebuild, we’re creating a tangible way for folks to get involved. I invite anyone interested to apply.”

According to Bloomberg

Before Russian tanks crashed into Trostyanets in the first days of their invasion, the small northeastern Ukrainian town 20 miles from the Russia-Ukraine border was known mostly for its cluster of historic monuments, its chocolate factory and the innovative development strategies of its progressive mayor, Yuri Bova. Now the town is scarcely recognizable: Buildings have been shelled and looted, roads are mined, and the surviving population — 20,000 residents lived here before the war began — is reeling from 31 days of Russian occupation.

Mayor Kelly and Mayor Bova at the 2023 Cities Summit of the Americas

After the initial Russian advance into Ukraine stalled, Trostyanets became a staging area for hundreds of troops and their equipment. The number of civilians killed during the occupation is still unclear. Targeted by Russian authorities, Bova and other city leaders took shelter in a nearby village. Now that the Russians have departed and the theater of the war in Ukraine has shifted to the southeast, the mayor is taking on the task of helping the town back onto its feet. With most infrastructure damaged or destroyed and residents still traumatized and lacking services, that’s a mammoth undertaking.

Chattanooga City Council will consider a resolution that would confirm the partnership between the City of Chattanooga and the City of Trostyanets on economic, scientific, technical and cultural-humanitarian cooperation. No city funds will be allocated toward the agreement.

About the Working Group 

The Purpose of Mayor Kelly’s working group is to convene a committee of Chattanoogans sympathetic to the plight of Trostyanets and the Ukraine who only seek to live peaceful lives with the blessings of a democratically elected government — and who are seeking a way to help. The group will determine the best course of action in establishing plans to provide support to the Trostyanets. The city’s telecommunications infrastructure and hospital were both badly damaged in the Russian attacks and Mayor Kelly’s hope is to help connect Trostyanets with useful technical expertise and assistance as they seek to rebuild.

Residents interested in participating in Mayor Kelly’s working group in support of rebuilding Trostyanets can apply here

“It’s not an overstatement to say that what’s happening in Ukraine is an existential moment for western democracy,” said Kelly. “It is both a terrible tragedy in its own right, and a wake up call for the western world to support those who, like Americans in 1775 and 1812, are simply fighting for freedom from tyranny. It’s really as simple as that. Chattanooga has a long history of answering the bell for the cause of freedom and I’m sure our generosity will once again rise to the occasion.”

Mayor Kelly, United States Agency for International Development representatives, and city staff discuss a potential partnership with Trostyanets.