This month the UVA community has joined the world in expressing its horror and revulsion over Russian President Putin’s unprovoked and unjustified invasion of Ukraine, which has sparked the worst humanitarian crisis in Europe in more than 75 years, rendering millions homeless and rapidly growing numbers of civilian casualties.
Our first thoughts are with the members of our University community with family and friends in increasingly perilous circumstances in Ukraine. As Interim Dean of Students Julie Caruccio and I wrote to our Ukrainian students a few weeks ago, the University stands ready to support them during this deeply upsetting time.
There will be others among us who will suffer from the spillover effects of this crisis, including those cut off from family and resources in Russia through no fault of their own. I know our broader community will pull together to do whatever we can to help those in need and encourage anyone who needs help in navigating this challenging time to reach out. We will be there for you in solidarity.
Many in our community and our alumni have asked in recent days to ask how they can help ease the suffering of the Ukrainian victims of aggression. While the University cannot endorse any one in particular, there are numerous reputable non-governmental organizations already hard at work to help the victims of this war, including Mercy Corps, International Medical Corps, Save the Children, Direct Relief, and many others who seek support at this critical hour. In addition, the U.S. Department of State has partnered with GoFundMe.org to collect donations for Ukrainian humanitarian relief.
This is also a war on truth. A war which denies the legitimate sovereignty of a universally recognized member of the United Nations. A war in which aggressors euphemize the bombing of a maternity hospital and the besieged starvation of thousands as a “special military operation” aimed solely at protecting Ukrainians from the “Nazis and drug addicts” whom they freely elected with more than 70% of the vote.
A war in which the owner of the world’s largest stockpiles of nuclear and chemical weapons justifies the invasion of its smaller and weaker neighbor by falsely accusing it of developing nuclear and chemical weapons. And a war in which anyone who dares to speak the truth can face imprisonment. In such a war, universities have a special role as combatants in shining a light on reality, countering the malicious “alternative facts” that hide or distract from the truth, and supporting the victims of lies wherever we can.
UVA has joined this battle with such efforts as the Miller Center’s blog on the invasion of Ukraine with a rich array of analysis and our own platform in Global Affairs, which we offer the University community to share news and reflections, while listing other resources to better understand the invasion. We look forward to working with the whole University community in the weeks and months ahead to keep these efforts going strong.