Downtown Waterville is seen in this Feb. 8, 2019, file photo. Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN

The mayor of Waterville said he supports sovereignty in Ukraine but does not condemn the people of Russia.

Waterville has a Russian sister city in Kotlas, and Mayor Jay Coelho said they plan to continue their relationship despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Traditionally, the two cities send residents back and forth to learn about culture.

“It’s an exchange of culture, which I think is important for growth. This way we have an opportunity to bond with the people on the ground level. No one supports everything that their government does, and we want to make sure that we are not condemning people that have nothing to do with it,” Coelho said.

He has also reached out to Kotlas officials, inviting residents to come visit.