Thu, March 17, 2022


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Head of Ukraine’s research agency calls for international help

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 20 February 2022, Executive Director of the National Research Foundation of Ukraine (NRFU) Dr Olga Polotska has appealed to the international community to help her country’s scientists.

Along with the killing and displacement of civilians and destruction of infrastructure by the Russian military, the conscription of fighting-age males by Ukrainian security forces has meant that there are now few researchers who are able to work. Others, who were unable to flee the Russian advance, are now isolated in territories occupied by hostile forces.

Because of the fighting, the NRFU has also had to pause its funding for 269 projects that were meant to commence on 1 March.

“Everything has stopped,” Dr Polotska said. “Ukrainian scientists will need a lot of support.”

Plea for international help

Intervention by the international scientific community could include funding schemes to cover salaries and equipment, assistance for displaced scientists, aid for scientists still within Ukraine, and the provision of foreign evaluators to review Ukrainian proposals.

Any international programmes involving Ukrainian researchers would be a welcome help to keep Ukrainian science functioning, according to Dr Polotska.

Brain drain

Many scientists have already left Ukraine for the relative safety of neighbouring countries, creating a temporary brain-drain in a country which has already had key science facilities destroyed, such as Research Institute of Physics and Technology buildings in Kharkiv.

“I suspect other [research buildings] are heavily damaged,” said Dr Polotska. “There is a very high chance of researchers [having been] wounded or killed.”

A call for sanctions

In a statement on the NRFU’s website, Dr Polotska argued for researchers in western Europe to cut ties with their Russian counterparts.

“We are also convinced that immediate severance of all your ties with Russian scientific structures, which are in the service of the totalitarian fascist regime, is urgently needed,” the statement said.

Germany was the first EU country to announce it will cease all science, research and vocational training with Russia; however, other countries are still debating whether or not to take similar actions.


Read the full story by Florin Zubașcu on the Science Business website.