Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has halted Oxford’s twinning links with the Russian city Perm, but such links have existed for decades with towns and cities across Europe.

They include Bonn in Germany, Leiden in Holland and Grenoble in France.

Towns around the county also have long established twinning links.

Here we look back at some photos from the Oxford Mail archive.

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In 2020, Don Rouse, deputy president of the Oxford-Leiden Link, explained the benefits of twinning links.

Herald Series:

He wrote at the time: "On my first visit to Leiden, I checked my Dutch/English phrase book and proudly announced to my hosts in Dutch that I was a ‘boer’ – a farmer.

"They laughed and told me the correct wording was ‘boer pummel’, a phrase I constantly used to introduce myself.

Herald Series:

"It was several years later that I discovered the true translation – I had been telling everyone I was not a farmer but the ‘village idiot’.

"It is a phrase that has stuck with me throughout my 57 years as an enthusiast for Oxford’s twin city links.

"After such a long spell, your readers will understand my surprise when I read an Oxford Mail editorial, headlined ‘What is the point of twinning mania?’ and describing those links as “vanity projects”.

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"Volunteers of Oxford’s twinning links have put many hours into organising sporting and cultural exchanges and creating many long-lasting friendships.

Herald Series:

"Thousands of people, young and old, have enjoyed the thrill of meeting, exchanging ideas and sharing experiences with those from other countries.

"For some, me included, our twin cities have given us our first opportunity to go abroad – in 1946, when it all began, families were lucky if they could go to Bognor or Blackpool for a holiday.

"Now, when Britain is breaking away from Europe and becoming independent, surely it is important that we, as a community, remain friends with those overseas?

Herald Series:

"Oxford, which voted against Brexit, has taken the view, through its council, that we should maintain our long-established links which have proved so successful in the past and seek new ones."

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Mr Rouse added: "Friendship began with Oxford pledging support for Leiden and Bonn in Germany after the Second World War.

"Since then, more links have been established, with Grenoble in France, Perm in Russia, Leon in Nicaragua, Padua in Italy, Wrocław in Poland and Ramallah in Palestine.

"My first visit to Leiden as captain of the Oxford weightlifting team was a great success and despite my ‘village idiot’ tag, I’ve established a wonderful rapport with my Dutch counterparts that still exists today.

"There have been many memorable events between Oxford and Leiden over the years, including one in 1989 when we took part in Leiden’s annual carnival parade.

"Another notable exchange involved handicapped horse riders from Oxford and Leiden.

Herald Series:

"Youngsters who could not walk unaided, rode and controlled horses by themselves - the look of happiness on their faces was unbelievable.

"Generally, our exchanges and other activities have run smoothly, including our two major events of the year - the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Oxford and Leiden for our war dead."

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