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Miami and Ukrainian city are now 'Sister Cities'

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Ammy Sanchez / WLRN
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Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell spearheaded the “Guns 4 Ukraine” gun buyback program held in June.

Miami signed a Sister City partnership with the City of Irpin in Ukraine Monday. The partnership began with a gift of guns that Miami Police had taken off the streets.

“We can live without light. We can live without water, but we can't live without freedom,” said Galyna Serdyuk, a pediatrician from Ukraine who is now living in the U.S. with temporary protected status. “I’m very thankful for [the United States], for every inch of help to my country, to defend my country.”

Miami and Irpin will also work together on tourism, trade and networking. But in the meantime, Miami will focus on establishing hope and providing aid.

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In total, Miami is giving the Ukrainian city 102 guns, of which 20 are rifles and the rest are handguns. Most of them are AK-47s, AR-15s or 9-millimeter pistols.

The weapons will help arm the local Irpin police force, with the goal to aid the city in defending itself against the Russian army.

Oleksandr Markushyn, the Mayor of Irpin, said that Ukrainian leaders are confident that if they had enough weapons initially, there’s no way Russia would’ve gotten as far as it did.

Sixteen guns were collected during the “Guns 4 Ukraine” gun buyback program held in June by the City of Miami and spearheaded by Miami City Commissioner Ken Russell.

“[That's] something that should set a precedent that... cities can work together to help each other in all sorts of crises,” Russell said.

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Ammy Sanchez / WLRN
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Commissioner Ken Russell shakes hands with Oleksandr Markushyn, the Mayor of Irpin.

The other weapons were taken off the streets by Miami Police Officers and would have been destroyed if they could not be legally returned to their original owners.

“Most of us here in Miami have been displaced from our natural lands, and we will do everything we can to ensure that doesn't happen to anybody else,” said Manuel Morales, the Chief of Police of the Miami Police Department.

The weapons are expected to be sent to Irpin next week through exporter DTGruelle and will be delivered to city officials.

Ammy Sanchez is a junior at the Honors College at Florida International University, studying organizational communications.