Cities rally around Ukraine

3 March 2022

From the Eiffel Tower in Paris to Warsaw’s Palace of Culture, from Brussels’ Arc de Triomphe to city halls in Belfast, Tampere and beyond, landmarks beam at night in blue and yellow, the colours of the Ukrainian flag.

As Russia continues to wage war on its neighbour, messages from cities keep pouring in on social media, an unstoppable flood of voices rallying with Ukraine.

Local leaders express solidarity, outrage, encouragement. They collect donations, send aid, call for peace, and open their doors to the now one million refugees pouring in from the continent’s Eastern flank.

“Solidarity with Ukraine. Russian aggression must be stopped now”, decried Emil Boc, the Mayor of Cluj-Napoca in Romania just hours after the Russian invasion last Thursday.

“Brussels stands with Ukraine,” Pascal Smet, the Secretary of State for the Brussels Capital Region wrote on Twitter, with similar solidarity calls multiplying by the hundreds online, from Florence to Valongo.



In Bonn, Mayor Katja Dörner said that her city “strongly condemns the attack in violation of international law and the war for which [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is responsible,”

In Spain, Barcelona and Valladolid called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine while peace was invoked in all languages across the continent.

Alcobendas held a minute of silence earlier this week, promising to send humanitarian aid and to welcome Ukrainian citizens fleeing their country.

Peace gatherings have sprung up all over Italy just days after the start of the conflict. This Friday, a torchlight vigil will take place at the City Hall in Rome to ask for an end to hostilities; on Saturday, it will be Fuenlabradas’ turn with a rally in support of Ukraine.

Vienna, meanwhile, is getting creative, with the city libraries offering book tips on Ukrainian literature.

Humanitarian aid

As the war upends lives and creates a humanitarian emergency in Ukraine, municipalities double up efforts to provide much-needed material and financial aid to those living under the bombs.

“We commit – in coordination between our cities – to finding practical help to the Ukrainian citizens and authorities in these most unusual circumstances,” Rafal Trzaskowski, the Mayor of Warsaw, said in a Youtube message recorded with his counterparts from Prague, Bratislava and Budapest.

The four municipalities are joined in the ‘Pact of Free Cities’, a 2019 agreement in which they pledged to advance democratic values, achieve climate, digital, social and other goals as well as to gain access to EU funding to reach those targets.

“Long live Ukraine. Friends, we are with you,” is the four mayors’ message that ends the video.

Finland’s 17 largest cities are providing financial assistance to Ukraine, in total approximately €1.5 million. Tampere is also sending medical supplies while others, like Lille and Rennes, are organising online fundraising to offer financial support.

Braga, Terrassa, Stavanger and dozens of others are collecting basic necessities to send to the embattled country.

A sign in support of Ukraine reading "Peace and Freedom"
A sign in support of Ukraine reading “Peace and Freedom”. Photo by City of Bonn

Many others, like Ghent, are providing goods while making plans to host Ukrainians displaced by the war.

As Amsterdam welcomed its first Ukrainian refugees on Tuesday, municipalities all over the continent are opening doors to them, from Bonn to Zagreb, from Warsaw to Munich.

Milan city officials said they intend “to support the families of the approximately 8,000 Milanese of Ukrainian origin and all the refugees who may arrive in the city fleeing the country. The priority is to provide correct information and organise a short-term emergency reception.”

Two hands touching
Photo by Graphisland

In Lublin, restaurants are giving meals free of charge to displaced Ukrainians crossing the border with Poland. The city has set up emergency housing facilities that can accommodate up to 15,000 people; Lublin residents are also opening up their own homes to refugees. Since 28 February, public transport has been free for all Ukrainian citizens in the city.

Find more actions from our cities via our dedicated Twitter page:

Top photo by: Marta Marcuzzi



Daniela Berretta Eurocities Writer