Together with over 50 others, I reached out to about 1,000 academics in Ukraine offering them help. Many of the academics who responded were still in Ukraine and quite a few of these in cities that are currently being bombed. We all wrote slightly different letters and got a variety of responses but there were a couple of themes that I want to share today.
First, no one expressed a desire to have Ukraine give in to Russia, which is consistent with every other Ukrainian voice I have heard since the war broke out. Despite the destruction, despite the war crimes Russia has started committing against civilians, and against the odds, the Ukrainians want to fight for their country and their independence.
Second, the most common request was not a personal one but to put pressure on NATO to “close the sky”, i.e., declare a no-fly zone over Ukraine. We can debate the benefits and costs of a no-fly zone for hours and not come to a conclusion, but if you don’t support a no-fly zone, interpret this request as “Ukraine needs way more military help.” Yes, we’ve all seen the bravery and successes of the Ukrainian army and civilians, but Ukraine needs a lot more military aid to withstand the assault.
Third, several academics shared petitions to isolate academics in Russia with a variety of methods. I’ve shared several already (here and here); two more that were shared with our group can be found here and here. An appeal for support of Ukrainian academia is here (scroll down for English version). Some academics that did not share a petition proposed banning Russia from the Web of Science platform and Scopus, the Fulbright program, and so on. Again, I’m not posting this to start a debate but to give academics in Ukraine a voice. Many of us want to avoid “unfair” punishments of Russians who may be against the war, but the truth is that’s essentially impossible to do.
Fourth, academics—just like the people of Ukraine—want more sanctions against Russia and more military aid for Ukraine in general. Many of them don’t believe that Putin will stop with Ukraine and urge the world to recognize this and take stronger action now, before Russia starts attacking other countries as well. Whether or not you think this is likely, to me it seems clear that helping Ukraine defeat Russia in whatever way we can is good not just for Ukraine but for the rest of the world, at least as an insurance policy.
Beyond these broad themes, here are several other calls/resources I thought were worth sharing.
- One academic called for more and bigger protests! Ukraine is paying attention to you when you go out there.
- Another shared a great Google doc with opportunities to donate to help Ukraine.
- Another academic wanted the world to watch this YouTube video about the bombing of the maternity and children’s hospital in Mariupol. The same academic also shared this Facebook video with a compilation of Russian destruction in Ukraine. Yes, these are tough to watch, but we must understand what Ukrainians are living through.
- A website with events against the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Also check out their More Ways to Help section.