On Tuesday, the UG froze all ties with non-university partners in Russia, including the large and powerful gas company Gazprom, effective immediately.
In a short statement, the university writes that ‘the UG will follow national policy when it comes to our partnerships with Russian knowledge institutes’. Overarching organisation Universities of the Netherlands (UNL, previously the VSNU) will represent all universities in a discussion with the government in The Hague, UG spokesperson Anja Hulshof says.
‘Sanctions are currently being imposed, while others are still being drawn up’, she says. ‘It’s possible the government will come up with sanctions on exchanging knowledge, including research and education.’
Last Friday, the German government called on all academic organisations in the country to freeze their ties with Russia. If the Dutch government decided to impose such sanctions, the UG will act upon them immediately. ‘But that’s currently not the case.’
The university has decided to freeze all non-university partnerships. One important partnership is with Russian gas company Gazprom in the Energy Delta Institute.
This ‘energy business school’ was created in 2002 by the UG, Gazprom, and the Gasunie, with the goal to unite the knowledge and practice of the energy sector. It’s been part of the New Energy Coalition since 2017, which mainly focuses on the energy transition.
‘Gazprom is one of the founding fathers’, Hulshof says. ‘But we’ve now severed ties with them.’
In addition to the abovementioned partnerships, there’s also the Netherlands-Russia Centre (NRCe) and the Centre for Russian Studies (CRS). Both centres are under management from Russia expert and UG professor Hans van Koningsbrugge.
When it was founded, an important part of the NRCe was financed by the UG’s commercial holding company. The centre’s task is to stimulate contacts between companies, governments, cultural, and university organisations in the Netherlands and Russia.
According to a statement by Van Koningsbrugge on the NRCe website, the centre is currently ‘trying to help Dutch society understand the developments and support our clients in how to respond to the current situation’.
Not without consequences
On behalf of the entire centre, he condemns ‘every single aggressive action the Russian government is taking against Ukraine’. According to Van Koningsbrugge, it’s ‘clear as day that this large-scale violation of Ukrainian sovereignty cannot continue without consequences’.
The CRS published a similar statement on its website. As a documentation centre mainly focused on research and education at the UG, the CRS is now focusing on how to talk about the developments. According to the statement, ‘a better understanding of Ukrainian and Russian history, language, and culture’ can help with this matter.
The UG says it’s shocked by the Russian invasion and that it’s ‘in close contact with our Ukrainian and Russian students and staff, as well as students from Ukrainian universities here on exchange’.
The uni is trying to support both groups as best it can. ‘We’re keeping a close eye how our staff and students are potentially affected by the imposed sanctions.’
The university is also working on setting up an emergency fund so it can provide financial support where necessary. ‘We’re also participating in Scholars at Risk’, says Hulshof. ‘Last month, we hired an at-risk academic at the UG.’