In little over a week, many thousands of people have been killed as a result of Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, a sovereign nation. The United Nations has condemned what is happening as a violation of the UN Charter. The International Criminal Court is investigating potential war crimes and crimes against humanity, because innocent people and civilian infrastructure — including universities and cultural centres — are being targeted.
Along with the world’s scientific community, Nature condemns this horrific invasion in the strongest terms — and calls on Russia to immediately end its attack. We support and stand in solidarity with Ukraine’s people, including its research community.
As this editorial was published, one million people, mostly children and women, had been forced to abandon their homes and flee to neighbouring countries. These numbers will multiply in the coming days and weeks. Ukrainian researchers are among those enduring unconscionable violence and suffering. Many have bravely taken up arms to defend their country. Others are remaining in cities that are being bombed, to care for their families. “We are not thinking of research,” Illya Khadzhynov, vice-rector for scientific work at Vasyl’ Stus Donetsk National University, told Nature.
The global research community has mobilized rapidly to offer practical support. #ScienceForUkraine, Ukrainian scientists working abroad, the Global Young Academy (GYA) and Cara (the Council for At-Risk Academics, in the United Kingdom) are among those collating offers of help from the world’s universities to place Ukrainian scientists in universities outside the country.
Members of Russia’s scientific community are also condemning the invasion, potentially putting their own safety at risk. At the same time, numerous national and international scientific organizations have written open letters and statements urging an immediate ceasefire and support for Ukraine.
Russia’s government is rightly facing severe financial, economic and trade sanctions, and these are extending to research and higher education. Denmark and Germany have told universities to suspend cooperation with institutions in Russia, and the European Union is halting payments to Russian partners taking part in EU-funded projects.
Some scientists are calling for a comprehensive and worldwide boycott of all Russian research, and for scientific journals to refuse to consider papers by researchers from Russia. Given the horror of what is happening in Ukraine, such calls are understandable. But Nature, in common with many other journals, will continue to consider manuscripts from researchers anywhere in the world. That is because we think at this time that such a boycott would do more harm than good. It would divide the global research community and restrict the exchange of scholarly knowledge — both of which have the potential to damage the health and well-being of humanity and the planet. The world must keep generating the knowledge needed to deal with this and other crises. The ability to communicate research and scholarship freely across national borders has been foundational to science and international relations — and has endured during some of the world’s worst historical conflicts.
The GYA is also rightly calling for the research community to uphold scientific collaborations with Russian scholars amid the invasion and is urging researchers to “not let war divide us”. And, in its statement about the invasion, the InterAcademy Partnership, a network of the world’s science academies, emphasizes the need for science to “leave no one behind”.
The whole scientific community — including Nature — must and will stand united in opposition to Russia’s aggression.