The Russian Union of Rectors, representing more than 700 Russian university rectors and presidents, has backed the Kremlin’s invasion of Ukraine. Channeling the school scene in All Quiet on the Western Front, the organization has used the war to effectively redefine the mission of Russian higher education:
This is Russia’s decision to finally end the eight-year confrontation between Ukraine and Donbas, achieve the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine, and thereby protect itself from growing military threats…. It is very important in these days to support our country, our army, which defends our security, to support our president, who, perhaps, made the most difficult, hard-won but necessary decision in his life.
The Russian Union of Rectors notes it is important to carry out the “main duty” of Russian higher education “to instill patriotism in young people, the desire to help the motherland.”
Many European universities have already severed ties with their Russian counterparts. The European Commission has said it will suspend planned grants for Russian institutions under the European Union’s Horizon Europe research program and will not “engage in further cooperation projects with Russian entities”. The National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation, however, have yet to issue a statement about funding Russian universities. What are we waiting for?
C. E. Klafter is Project Director (International Branch Campuses) with the National Association of Scholars. He is also Rector & Professor of History Emeritus at the American University of Myanmar.