Oxford City Council flies Ukraine flag, and set to end twinning agreement with Perm until Russia’s breaches of international law cease

Published: Friday, 4th March 2022

Oxford City Council is flying the Ukraine flag from its flagstaff to show its solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

The council is taking the opportunity to restate its commitment to supporting refugees from Ukraine and around the world. It is waiting for more information from government on whether there will be a full resettlement programme for Ukrainian refugees, similar to that for Afghan refugees.

For those with family connections, the government has relaxed the eligibility rules for Family Migration Visas, removing the salary and language requirements, and there is no limit on numbers. British citizens and those settled in the UK can now bring a wider group of family members to the UK, extending eligibility to parents, grandparents, adult offspring, siblings, and their immediate family members.

The government has said there will be a community sponsorship route, and details are being worked up and will be communicated in due course. This will open up a route to the UK for Ukrainians who may not have family ties with the UK to be privately sponsored and supported by individuals, charities, businesses, and community groups.

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council, has put in place steps today to end Oxford’s official twinning agreement with Perm until such time as Russia’s breaches of international law cease. 

“Oxford City Council utterly condemns the invasion of Ukraine by the Russian government led by President Putin. We are flying the Ukrainian flag to show that our thoughts and solidarity are with the Ukrainian people.   

“Oxford is proud of being a welcoming city, and we are ready to play our part to support Ukrainian refugees. The government must show more urgency on providing a Ukrainian refugee programme, and make clear what support local councils can give. The changes in current migration visas are welcome, but millions of people now need refuge not just migration.

“This is a tragedy not just for the people of Ukraine, but also Russian citizens plunged into this war against democracy, and we also want to give our support to those Russians who are risking their own safety to oppose the invasion. I also know there are Russians living in Oxford today who despise Putin, but are also now feeling concerned for their own safety. I would ask all Oxford residents to show them courtesy and respect during this difficult time.

“Our Lord Mayor wrote in strong terms to the Mayor of Perm condemning the invasion. We haven’t received a response to that letter. With the situation escalating and many thousands of lives being lost, we are, with a heavy heart, taking action to end our twinning agreement until such time as Russia’s appalling breaches of international law cease.

“Our thoughts are with the Ukrainian people, and our Ukrainian residents in Oxford, at this incredibly difficult time.”

Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council

Weather permitting, the Ukrainian flag will fly until further notice, except on the dates when the Council has already committed to fly other flags.

The Disasters Emergency Committee, a coalition of 15 leading UK charities, has launched a collective appeal to provide emergency aid to civilians suffering during the conflict.

Many registered charities are also helping to provide vital life-saving services to those caught up in the conflict, including those forced to flee to neighbouring countries. These include the Red Cross, Save the Children, UNICEF and The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

The twinning agreement is expected to officially end on Monday (7/3). The Lord Mayor of Oxford will ask the next Full Council meeting (21/3) to endorse this decision.

Information on the road signs into Oxford will be amended.

A new decision of Council would be needed for the twinning agreement to be reinstated.