Statement on the war in Ukraine

(17-03-2022) Ghent University’s Russia Platform is appalled by the unprovoked acts of aggression by the Russian authorities in Ukraine and condemns them in the strongest possible words.

Our hearts and thoughts are with all those in Ukraine and beyond who are affected, directly or indirectly. We stand with all the people in Ukraine, but also with those in Russia and elsewhere who oppose these atrocities. When politics fail, other channels must remain as open as possible for the exchange of thoughts and knowledge and for peaceful cooperation. Keeping open the channels for communication with Ukrainian and Russian academics and civil society is essential, especially in support of all Ukrainian universities and those academics working in Russia who have courageously spoken out against this war. We will re-evaluate our existing cooperations with academic institutions in Russia, but at the same time reinforce our commitment to critically study and assess Russian politics, society and culture through our knowledge center Cerise. We welcome any critical contributions that serve this commitment.

On behalf of the steering group, 6 March 2022

Update: On cooperation with Russian universities

Ghent University has suspended all forms of institutional cooperation with those Russian universities and institutes that have pledged their support for the invasion of Ukraine (be it by signing the open letter of the Russian Union of Rectors or in any other way) and that have sanctioned, and continue to do so, academics and students who have spoken out against the war and / or have exercised their academic freedom, e.g. by sharing their opinion on the current situation in Ukraine and Russia. At the same time, cooperation with Russian universities that do not support the invasion of Ukraine and do show respect for the academic freedom of their researchers and students remains possible. The same goes for student exchange and cooperation between academics, both on an individual basis.

Ghent University’s Russia Platform fully supports and endorses all three decisions. Support for the ongoing war and the assaults on civilians and / or attempts to persecute all those who exercise their academic freedom and freedom of speech can only be condemned and goes against the very idea of exchange of thoughts and knowledge and peaceful cooperation the Platform stands for. Student exchange, Cooperation with individual academics and cooperation with universities that do not support the invasion are needed more than ever in order to keep open any possible channels for communication with Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian academics and civil society. For the same reason the Platform strongly speaks out against the exclusion of Belarusian and Russian students and academics based solely on their citizenship. The Platform expresses its unequivocal support for all Ukrainian academics and students who are affected by the acts of aggression by the Russian state.

17 March 2022

The Steering Group is currently re-evaluating the Platform's mission. More information will follow as soon as possible. Several initiatives for support are being explored.