It may not carry a lot of economic impact but a group of aldermen want to send a strong message of protest to Russia.
“It’s symbolic, isn’t it?” says Alderman Ed Burke, chief sponsor of the proposed resolution. The powerful finance committee chairman acknowledges that he and the City Council lack the authority to ground flights to Russia. But along with Aldermen Ariel ReBoyras, Joe Moreno and Roberto Maldonando, Burke believes Chicago should send a sharp message to Moscow by calling for passenger and freight carriers using O’Hare or Midway to suspend flights to Russia.
“I do think expressions like this, that may have an economic impact, can do a lot to get the attention of the Russian leadership,” Burke said. “If Chicago does this, will NY follow suit? Or Los Angeles follow suit?”
Local Chicago Ukranian-Americans can only hope. Because when it comes to economic impact, by itself, Chicago can only have a limited affect. There are no direct passenger flights from any Chicago airport to Moscow or St. Petersburg. And it’s not clear how much local freight traffic goes to Russia. But given Russian affinity for Chicago, Burke believes the message carries weight.
“Instead of just sitting idly by as this goes on, can’t we express the opinion of 2.9 million people of Chicago who are appalled at what is happening to the international scene?” he said.
Until the Russian Federation unconditionally withdraws troops from the Crimean peninsula, Burke also wants to suspend Chicago’s sister-city agreement with Moscow … something that can be accomplished with the stroke of a pen. “Just like that. Done,” he says.
Calls to the Russian Consulate press office for comment were unreturned. The proposed Chicago resolution goes before the Human Relations committee before coming back to the full city council for a vote.