L.A. leaders look to make Kyiv a sister city: ‘We want to say something, do something’

L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino is spearheading the effort to make Kyiv, Ukraine, a sister city.
L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino is spearheading the effort to make Kyiv, Ukraine, a sister city.
(Genaro Molina/Los Angeles Times)

With Russia’s war with Ukraine now in its second month, the Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to begin the process of making Kyiv, the Ukrainian capital, a sister city to L.A.

Supporters of that effort said it would deliver a “symbolic gesture of solidarity” from Angelenos who are horrified by the Russian bombardment.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who spearheaded the proposal, said he is aware that a sister-city designation is “the last thing” on the minds of Kyiv’s mayor and his embattled city. Nevertheless, he argued that such a designation would make it easier for Los Angeles to donate equipment, such as surplus fire trucks or other vehicles, to assist Kyiv in its time of severe need.


“As local leaders, we want to say something, do something, and to act towards a collective disapproval of this assault on humankind,” said Buscaino, who is running for mayor.

A DJ and record-shop owner in downtown L.A. says that he’s being force to vacate his premises because of his Russian roots.

March 24, 2022

The proposal, which was also signed by council members Paul Koretz, Mitch O’Farrell and Nithya Raman, will allow the city to begin work forming a committee to review a Kyiv nomination. If the designation is finalized, Kyiv would become L.A.’s 26th sister city, joining such urban centers as Athens; Berlin; Bordeaux, France; Taipei, Taiwan; and Vancouver, said Buscaino spokesman Branimir Kvartuc.

Friday’s vote was the latest effort by the city’s elected officials to weigh in on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has set off a massive exodus of refugees into Poland and other parts of Europe. Several L.A. politicians recently gathered at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Hollywood to decry the invasion, following a council vote condemning Russia’s actions.

Mayor Eric Garcetti said two weeks ago that he’s looking into sending Los Angeles Police Department body armor and tactical equipment to Ukraine. Meanwhile, some at City Hall have criticized the stance taken by Democratic Socialists of America, which responded to the war in Ukraine by denouncing the invasion and calling for the U.S. to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The Times’ Marcus Yam, no stranger to war photography, gives a first-person account from Ukraine.

April 8, 2022

Sister-city designations become official after the signing of a formal agreement between each of the cities’ top elected officials, according to the city’s website. Such relationships are aimed at fostering cultural exchanges, economic development and a sense of global cooperation.

Buscaino noted that Kyiv, like L.A., is a major cultural center, with museums, theaters, concert venues and other offerings. He said Friday that he hopes the sister-city relationship would allow Los Angeles to help Kyiv one day as it begins to rebuild.