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Washington joins Ukraine’s Kyiv region in sister state agreement

On Friday, Governor Jay Inslee reiterated his commitment to stand with the people of Ukraine.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Roman Mitin first moved to the U.S. from Ukraine when he was just 17 years old.

Since then, he’s started My Home Church, and helps refugees get settled in the United States. He said he’s proud to call Tacoma home and give to his neighbors, and has watched the city’s Ukrainian community grow.

“Through churches, we communicate, we help each other,” he said. “Especially nowadays with refugees from the War from Ukraine, we try to help them to start their life here in Washington.”

On Friday, Washington took another step closer to Ukraine.

Gov. Jay Inslee met with his Ukrainian counterpart, Ruslan Kravchenko, to sign a sister state agreement in Tacoma.

Kravchenko is the governor of the Kyiv administrative region, home to more than 100,000 people.

The region was overrun by Russian forces in February 2022. At least 1,600 people were killed, and 227 schools and 24,000 homes were damaged.

When Inslee heard about Russia’s actions, he said he had to act.

“Anyone who understands the history of Europe, understands the danger of allowing a madman imperialist autocrat to be loose, invading democracies in Europe” Inslee said. “This is ultimately our battle, this is our fight because it is a democracy and we are associated with it.”

Soon after, Inslee ordered state agencies to sever Russian-affiliated state contracts and investments. State employees also raised over $146,000 in donations.

The governor’s office said Washington has accepted more than 24,000 displaced Ukrainians since the fighting began, and the state has granted food assistance to more than 11,000 Ukrainian households. Inslee has also pushed Congress to replenish Ukraine’s dwindling munitions and supplies.

Washington is the first state to create this kind of agreement with Ukraine.

Inslee and Kravchenko also signed a series of agreements to promote academic and economic exchange.

“We don’t have certain products that you manufacture, and you do not have certain manufacturers that we have,” Kravchenko said. “Through mutual collaboration, we will make these economic relations, you will have more workspaces, and we will have the same.”

Mitin said he’s glad to see Washington strengthen its relationship with Ukraine, and hopes Tacoma can continue to be a place for his countrymen to find a new beginning.

“My parents had $75 in their pocket, and now we have pretty much everything for a good living,” he said. “I think Washington state is a good state to start your free life.”

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