Three Sheffield councillors have praised the “friendship” between Sheffield and Donetsk in light of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Coun Terry Fox, Coun Shaffaq Mohammed and Coun Douglas Johnson released their statement on the 25 February, and said their “hearts are breaking” for people in the country.
They criticised Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s decision to attack Ukraine.
Shaffaq Mohammed, councillor for Ecclesall and leader of the Sheffield Liberal Democrats, said: “There is a historic link that goes back many years. Our city councillors have been there. It’s basically a friendship. We exchange visits and we exchange cultures.”
Sheffield’s relationship with the city began during the Cold War in 1956, and it intensified during the 1980’s. It led to the creation of “Donetsk Way” which is one of the main roads around Hackenthorpe, near Beighton.
The road name received little attention in the past, but it is now firmly in the spotlight as a result of recent events.
The relationship between Sheffield and Donetsk was aided by the similarities between the two cities. Like Sheffield, Donetsk has a steel and mining heritage.
Sheffield was the first city to twin with somewhere part of the former Soviet Union. A park in Donetsk was named “Sheffield Park” in order to honour the twinning of the cities.
Coun Douglas Johnson said about his statement: “It was an opportunity to actually show solidarity and show how close this war in Europe is to people’s homes.
It’s an incredibly difficult time for people in Donetsk.”
Angela Smith, 66, a Sheffield local who grew up near Donetsk Way said: “Originally it would have been in connection with Russia, the name, but now it’s gone the other way. I think people now will be proud of it.
I will look at it every day and think of Zolensky.”