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(Un)utilized potential of German-Ukrainian municipal and regional partnerships

This is the brief overview of the article by Mattia and Inna Nelles that was first published in the German language on Ukraine-Analysen.

When Russian invasion forces invaded Ukraine, many mayors, city councillors and village leaders continued their work despite fighting, sieges or occupations. During the war, the cities and municipalities became a mainstay of the Ukrainian state.

Today, the most recent development of the German-Ukrainian partnerships can be looked back on positively. In the last two years alone, the number of German municipal partnerships with Ukraine has grown from 76 to 204. At the same time, seven regional partnerships were established between German federal states and the Ukrainian oblasts. This growth is one of the indicators of the immense commitment of federal states, cities, districts, municipalities and civil society, which have done an enormous amount for their Ukrainian partners since 2022, especially in the area of humanitarian aid.

In view of a war that is likely to last longer and the many years of reconstruction, the experience of the Ukrainian communities in particular must be taken into account when considering how partnerships can be expanded and developed beyond acute emergency aid. This is because the Ukrainian communities do not see themselves merely as supplicants, but are striving for partnerships on an equal footing with their German partners.

Our analysis is based on the initial results of the project “Local Resilience & Reconstruction: Capacities of Ukrainian Civil Society in the Chernihiv Region” funded by the Federal Agency for Civic Education. Experts from the German-Ukrainian Office (DUB) GmbH traveled to the Chernihiv and Kyiv regions in February 2024 and held discussions with representatives of local civil society, a dozen mayors and several city councillors. In addition, 33 extensive questionnaires were collected and 15 in-depth interviews were conducted with community representatives and local activists about their views on reconstruction, the role of international partners and the German-Ukrainian city partnerships.


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