I call upon all universities and research institutes, on all countries and companies, do not block those Russians that want to escape from Russia while there is time, and give them the option to continue their lives. They are not our enemies, they are our friends and should also receive our support.
It makes sense to implement and strengthen sanctions on Russia as a response to the Russian invasion into Ukraine. If European countries were to start a military intervention, this would risk an escalation of the war with potentially much severer consequences.
Sanctions hit the Russian economy and the financial system that helps pay for the war, and they destabilize moral as the Russian economy takes a big dive. The longer the war lasts, the more fruitful will these sanctions be and must therefore be continued until Russia pulls out of the war, and Putin and those responsible are prosecuted in den Haag.
It is unlikely that there will be significant financial benefits, such as in the form of tax income, from these sanctions, but if there are, then they should go to the aid of Ukraine, both during and in the aftermath of the war. One way to raise finances through sanctions is to tax Russian gas and oil imports, which would also aid the energy transition.
However, it must also be said that the sanctions placed on Russia hit those that are not responsible for the war, or those who even try to escape from it. Clearly, the Russian population is strongly divided on whether or not the war in Ukraine is justified. As I have been told by Russian colleagues, it seems a majority of Russians does not want the war. Yet suppressive policy, the suspension of online social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook, and the clearly biased news on Russian television have helped spread misinformation on the war, and therefore sanctions are unlikely to significantly change public support for the war.
The sanctions are affecting the Russian economy, and with it the Russian inhabitants, with the poorest, as usual, suffering the most. Maybe there is no other way to enforce those sanctions and we simply have to accept that it is impossible to specifically only target those that are responsible for the war. However, there are a few things that ought to be changed.
For example, many Russians who are fearing the war, do not want to take part and are clearly against Putin, are currently unable to write freely, want to flee Russia. Despite that, they are often unable to do so, as quite a few countries have stopped issuing VISAs to Russians. This is clearly a mistake as these are the wrong people to prevent from entering your country.
Let me give you a specific example. A friend of mine, a researcher from Russia, would like to leave Russia and find work, any work, in a university in Europe. He wants to continue his research and avoid being drafted into the Russian army. However, all universities that I contacted have told me that they essentially stopped any collaboration with Russia, and are therefore also not hiring Russians. That is a grave mistake. Think about it – here you have the option to support someone who is against the war, who may even be drafted and will then have to fight in the Ukraine conflict against his will. And despite that you prevent this person from saving his life, from saving other lives, and from continuing to do his job and potentially support those in Russia that are against the war.
I thus call upon all universities and research institutes, on all countries and companies, do not block those Russians that want to escape from Russia while there is time, and give them the option to continue their lives. They are not our enemies, they are our friends and should also receive our support.