Ukrainian UG lecturer Oksana Kavatsyuk (UCG) urges the university in a video message to cut all ties with Russia.
‘Cutting ties with Russian institutions would send a strong message, condemning Putin’s aggression and showing support to the Ukrainian cause’, she says.
After hearing on the radio that Dutch universities, including the UG, weren’t planning to stop their collaboration with Russian institutions, assistant professor of physics Kavatsyuk made a video to express her strong disapproval and published it on YouTube.
She hopes the UG doesn’t wait any longer to take action. ‘No matter if they say that a collaboration between institutions does not have a political meaning, politics is everywhere. And what is important now is to send a strong message’, she explains.
‘It may be true that many Russians do not support Putin’s actions, but many do, also inside the academic world. The UG and other institutions have to be clear and take a firm stand’, she adds.
Such a decision does not just have a political meaning, according to Kavatsyuk, it is also a message to the Russian people. ‘Many Russians are simply not aware of any narrative beyond the one provided by Putin’s propaganda. Cutting connections is also a form of communication. People will start asking questions.’
The more action is taken, the more Russian citizens will become aware that the world is condemning what their president is doing, she thinks. ‘Many big companies are already cutting ties with Russia, like IKEA, Lego, Disney. Universities should do the same. Naturally it will come at a financial cost, but here we are talking about something more important than just money.’
She invites the municipality of Groningen, which is twinned with the Russian city of Murmansk, to follow suit. ‘I am aware that it would mean affecting every Russian without distinction, but the soldiers invading Ukraine come from all over Russia and there is not a single place in the country which doesn’t support Putin.’
No safe place
Kavatsyuk’s family managed to flee from Kiev before the escalation made it impossible. ‘My sister and her family left on Thursday at dawn, my parents only on Friday night.’
They fled to western Ukraine and are safe at the moment. ‘However, there is no safe place until the airspace above Ukraine is closed’, Kavatsyuk says. ‘My family does not want to leave Ukraine, they want to fight for their land and freedom. My brother-in-law is joining the military to protect our country.’
‘Groningen and the Netherlands are showing a lot of support to Ukraine and for that I am really thankful, but war still rages and children are dying daily. We have to do more, and stand strong and united.’