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YAS statement on the Russian invasion of Ukraine

By 2nd March 2022 No Comments

Our community at the Young Academy of Scotland (YAS) writes in solidarity with Ukrainian nationals, who in the past few weeks have experienced unprovoked and unjustified invasion of their country, led by President Putin.  The aggressive military operations by Russia, which have already led to significant loss of life in Ukraine, must stop. More decisive action must be taken to protect citizens who remain in Ukraine and those who have been displaced to neighbouring countries due to this conflict. Support must be offered without discrimination; all those fleeing conflict deserve equal treatment, regardless of their race or nationality. We call for an immediate ceasefire to prevent further casualties and to enable humanitarian organisations to bring much-needed aid.

As a national academy we also stand in solidarity with anyone whose freedom of speech or academic freedom has been impacted by this conflict. We call on the UK and devolved governments to work with UK Higher Education institutions, national academies and other relevant organisations, such as the Council for At-Risk-Academics (CARA) to support Ukrainian students and academics whose studies have been impacted by recent events, e.g. by funding visiting scholarships, fellowships, mentoring, institutional partnerships and other forms of academic support. We also express our solidarity with Russian academics and citizens who have voiced their opposition to the war in Ukraine and condemn the threats of prosecution they are facing from their own government.

Mindful of our moral obligation to the people of Ukraine, we call for the following actions:

  • The UK government must take direct actions against Putin to resolve the ongoing conflict, beyond the current economic sanctions, and demonstrate stronger solidarity with Ukraine in the face of Russian threat.
  • The UK government must ensure immediate release of the £220m they have committed for humanitarian and emergency aid to support Ukraine and prevent further hardship.
  • The UK government must provide visas and asylum and remove unnecessary barriers for displaced citizens of Ukraine, and increase commitment beyond 200,000 refugees. The Scottish Government stands ready to welcome refugees from Ukraine and we support the request that the UK government waive all visa requirements for those fleeing the conflict.
  • No Ukrainian students or academics should be subject to any restrictions that will hinder them from their education, be that related to their student visas or UK scholarships.
  • The leadership of Scottish and UK Higher Education Institutions including the Scottish Funding Council should work together to release a package of funding for visiting scholarships and fellowship status for displaced Ukrainian academics.
  • Scottish higher education institutions should suspend collaborative research efforts with Russian institutions. They should consider suspending honorary academic visitor statuses until the war has ended, while also recognising the courageous actions of Russian academics and professionals in Scotland who are standing against their government’s actions.

With reference to the open letter issued by the Ukraine Young Scientists Council (dated Feb 27th 2022), and whilst recognising that individual Russian researchers are under pressure and being silenced by Putin’s regime, we request that the world associations, learning societies and funding bodies suspend research and educational funding support with Russia until the war has ended.

At the Young Academy of Scotland, we firmly believe in the rules of international law. We stand against Russian aggression, and we stand up for Ukraine’s sovereignty as an independent democratic nation. We deplore the loss of life and call for an end to all acts of violence in Ukraine. We stand in solidarity with fellow academics and citizens all around the world (including in Russia) who are calling for an end to the war.

We will continue to proactively monitor the evolving situation in Ukraine, and recruit displaced professionals who come to Scotland, including those from Ukraine, through our at-risk academics and refugees initiative. We are committed to welcoming displaced researchers and professionals from Ukraine to ensure that they receive valuable wide-ranging support through our vast professional network during their time in Scotland.

This statement has been written by individual YAS members and members of the YAS Facilitating Group.  It does not necessarily represent the views of all YAS members.