Chattanooga City Council endorses Mayor Kelly’s resident-led cooperative agreement with war-torn Ukrainian city

Chattanooga, Tenn. (Tuesday, July 11) – Chattanooga City Council today approved a resolution authorizing Mayor Tim Kelly to formalize a resident-led partnership effort between the City of Chattanooga and Trostyanets – a Ukrainian city that survived 31 days of Russian occupation and is struggling to recover from the effects of the ongoing Russian invasion. No city funds will be allocated toward the agreement. 

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

“I’m not the least bit surprised at the level of interest and the outpouring of support we’ve seen from Chattanoogans since we first pitched this idea last month,” said Mayor Kelly. “Chattanoogans have a humanitarian heart and want to help, and I’m excited that we can officially offer them a way to get involved.” 

Nearly 50 residents have signed up to be a part of Mayor Kelly’s working group, and 30 Chattanoogans joined the initial online meeting to further explain the possibilities of the 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

What Residents Are Saying

“I’m grateful to the Mayor for giving citizens of Chattanooga the opportunity to participate in a tangible way in terms of brainstorming on ways that members of our community can lend their compassion, skills, ingenuity, and resources… to make a significant difference in this war torn country. Many of us are eager to find ways to help.” – Judy 

“My family married into a Ukrainian family, and I can tell you the tireless effort my entire family went through trying to get everyone out prior to anything egregious happening to them. It was devastating for them having to flee then return to homes that were utterly destroyed. The Ukrainian people need our help…we owe it to them and their resolve to aid them through… any support we can give.”  – Patrick 

More on Trostyanets, 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.

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.