Last night’s military aggression against Ukraine must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. For one of the world’s most powerful nations, with access to vast conventional and nuclear arsenals, to act in this way is completely unacceptable and irresponsible. Russia’s inhuman conduct plunges Ukraine into an exceptionally grave situation that risks causing immense human suffering and devastating consequences for the population and takes the entire world into an extremely perilous situation.
Many people have contacted me today and while I haven’t been able to reply to them all, let there be no doubt that KI stands behind and supports the people of Ukraine in this most difficult of times. As the representative of one of the world’s leading medical universities I strongly denounce the military attack that Russia has launched. Military aggression very rarely leads to anything other than human tragedy on a massive scale.
Not to blame
At the same time, it is important not to blame the people of Russia for the violent assault on their neighbouring nation or accuse them of complicity. This is a war driven by the Kremlin and it is against this power base that we must direct our criticism and our demands for an immediate ceasefire.
This act of Russian aggression occurs just as the world has started to emerge from the greatest global health crisis of modern times. If the war in Ukraine escalates, it will lead to a new health crisis. War rips apart functional structures, not least healthcare systems. Armed conflict also causes severe human injury, necessitating an urgent need for emergency care. It’s also likely that we’ll see vast numbers of Ukrainians forcibly displaced from their homes, regions or country. Forcible displacement is a cause of serious hardship and ill health.
Level of preparedness
Together with the director of KI’s recently established Health Emergency and Pandemic Science Centre the KI leadership has begun to raise the level of preparedness in order to provide support and help in the situation that is escalating before our eyes. During the day we will review different scenarios and identify the opportunities we have to swiftly reprioritise and support our fellow Europeans in their current predicament.
We will also engage in dialogue with different international actors as well as academic colleagues in Sweden and abroad.
Our support naturally extends to the students or visiting researchers with a Ukrainian background who have, or have had, relations with KI. I have been informed of cases in which individuals with links to KI are in an extremely vulnerable position. One of many serious concerns is that the ability to travel to and from Ukraine has been suddenly and severely restricted. I’d like to stress that KI is prepared to do whatever we can to provide support and help. Exactly what this entails is an issue that we are now raising with the departments, in the university administration and with our students.
Finally: In an emergency and upsetting situation it is easy to lose our normal sense of judgment. At times of war, we may be subjected to disinformation and pressure from a range of different actors. This is a dangerous combination that can give rise to the spread of exaggerated and false information.
I urge you all to maintain a critical attitude to what you read and hear. Heavily condemning Russia’s conduct and resolutely supporting Ukraine must not lead us into the trap of stigmatising individuals or otherwise fanning the flames of an already serious state of affairs.