28 February 2022: Position of JLU on the war in Ukraine
28 February 2022
Dear members of JLU,
By now, we have all been following the developments in Ukraine with horror for a couple of days, and we are horrified. Only a week ago, few would have seriously expected (or wanted to expect) that the Russian government would launch a full-scale war of aggression on its
neighbouring country. The deaths and injuries in Ukraine, the vast refugee movements to the west of the country and across its borders as
well as the massive destruction in a country so close to us is shocking. We must also fear that this is only the beginning of a war in Eastern
Europe, which will also have immediate and serious consequences and implications for us in Germany, in the EU and in NATO. On 24 February 2022, Chancellor Scholz has rightly spoken of a "turning point in time".
At JLU, we have numerous connections to Ukraine, and we have many academics and students from Ukraine or with a Ukrainian background among us. Our tremendous and heartfelt support goes out to them during these difficult days. We are aware that they worry about their families and friends in Ukraine and that they are terribly concerned about the future. The Executive Board knows that a lot of us at JLU are already supporting their Ukrainian colleagues and fellow students individually in many ways. I would like to thank all those involved sincerely for their help. In the coming days, the Executive Board will set up its own aid fund, and the International Office (AAA) will systematically record the need for support. Moreover, we will coordinate our support activities with our partners in Giessen and at the two other universities in Central Hessen. Moreover, in view of the enormous challenges we face, I very much hope that there will be a federally funded support programme for the universities in the near future.
For decades, we at JLU have been connected very closely with Russian universities. Maintaining these connections will be difficult, since the efforts of the German government and the EU to isolate and sanction the Russian state will inevitably also affect the scientific areas, and hence our academic exchange with Russia. It remains to be seen what possibilities will remain for us. During the time ahead of us, we must carefully distinguish between the following: The Russian state and its government on the one hand, and our many Russian friends, who are as horrified as we are by the war of aggression against Ukraine, on the other hand. Many Russian institutions and individuals, including those in academic contexts, have spoken out against the Russian invasion in recent days – which certainly is a good sign in a difficult time.
We must be aware that challenging times lie ahead of us in Germany and Europe, and we do not yet know what these times will demand of us. However, when we see how courageously the Ukrainians have dealt with the invasion of their country in recent days, not only do we have to show our greatest respect but also do we have to support their courage and determination the best way we can.
Please stay healthy and take care of yourself and those close to you.
With kind regards,
Prof Dr Joybrato Mukherjee