Last week the Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Habib Rahman, sent a message of solidarity to Ukrainian city Novograd-Volynsky.
Many in Newcastle and across Tyneside may not have heard of the Ukrainian city that is home to 55,000 people.
However, Novograd-Volynsky has a special link to Newcastle as it falls under the Newcastles of the World programme.
Newcastles of the World is an official initiative that looks to bring together all the different places that share a name with our city across the world.
There are over 100 in total, including Novograd-Volynsky.
Novograd-Volynsky is 225 km, or a three hour drive, away from Kyiev.
NewcastleWorld looks into the city, what Newcastle City Council has said to their namesake and how events are unfolding there.
What did the Lord Mayor of Newcastle say?
The day before Russia's invasion of Ukraine, February 24, the Lord Mayor of Newcastle addressed a message of support to Mayor Mykola Borovets, of Novograd-Volynsky City Council.
In the letter, Cllr Rahman said: “I am writing to personally, from one Newcastle city to another, to let you know that the following motion is on the UK Newcastle City Council agenda for the full meeting of Council next week. The motion, written for the agenda deadline last week, states - Council recognises that:
“1. Ukraine is a sovereign, self-governing state who should be able freely to decide her own destiny.
“2. Russia massing it troops along the Ukrainian border is an act of aggression.
“3. The reports of the OSCE monitoring mission confirm continuing acts of violence in breach of the ceasefire.
“4. The response to Russian aggression in the first instance must always be in the first instance to engage diplomatically with a view to de-escalation.
“5. Any incursion by Russia into Ukrainian territory should be considered an act of war, and a clear breach of Russia’s commitment to the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of December 1994, which the UK also signed.
“6. Other European states have an important role in ensuring the territorial sovereignty of Ukraine
“7. The right to self-determination, territorial integrity, peaceful resolution of disputes and the rule of law are fundamental values which must be protected.”
The letter also acknowledged the bond formed between Newcastle and Ukraine after the MH17 plane crash and called for mor action from the UK government.
What is happening in Novograd-Volynsky?
The Novograd-Volynsky Council's website has been publishing a number of updates on the crisis every day.
These are available in both Ukrainian and English.
On March 3, a rallying piece was published giving hope to an "indomitable and desperate country" that "to fight means to live".
The city's Council has also confirmed that public transport is closed and is updating its residents on evacuation trains travelling through the country.
The people of Novograd-Volynsky also have an "urgent need" for "the transportation of humanitarian aid from the Ukrainian-Polish border checkpoints to Novohrad-Volynskyi".
The Council has also published a piece claiming that Russia is trying to share a fake video of Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky making a surrender statement.
As well as news reports, Mayor Mykola Borovets has been giving two daily video addresses to citizens.
You can view all the news from Novograd-Volynsky here.
What is Newcastles of the World?
The Newcastles of the World initiative started in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and dates back to 1996.
There are over 100 ‘Newcastles’ across the globe, some English speaking and some not.
Not all are official members of the initiative, including Novograd-Volynsky, mainly because of language problems - although a few Ukrainians from the city do follow the programme.
Newcastles of the World hopes to unite members “in friendship, and to share information/best practice/ideas through practical projects in the fields of tourism, culture, business and education and youth engagement”.
There have been a number of in-person conferences for the group, most recently in Herceg Novi, Montenegro in 2018.
The next is scheduled for this year in Neuchâtel, Switzerland.
How can I help Novograd-Volynsky?
Newcastle City Council also has official guidance here.