Putin’s war in Ukraine is deplorable on every level and our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Ukraine who need our compassion and practical support as a matter of urgency as do its neighbours and allies.

It is desperately sad to watch the invasion of a sovereign nation and the heroism and the statesmanship of Ukraine's leadership is breath-taking. So is the heroism of the many in Russia who oppose this war – risking their own lives and positions, to protest the Invasion and the regime that drives it. Many Russians have taken to the streets, academics (inc >80 geographers) posted an open letter (since blocked by the Russian state of course) and journalists have tried to reveal what is going on. This feels like Putin's war, not Russia’s. Many Russians have also sought sanctuary overseas, fearful of the repercussions and censorship.

Putin sowed the seeds of this invasion in 2014 - invading the Crimea and destabilising eastern provinces of Ukraine. He was angry that the Ukrainian people rejected his puppet Yanukovich, sickened by the corruption they observed in high office, from all sides. During 'Maidan' in 2014 they chose the promise of European democracy over Russia's kleptocracy and corruption as a way to liberate their economy and democracy and escape their dependency on Russia. But by choosing to turn to Europe they turned their back on Russia and Putin simply saw the creeping encroachment of NATO and the European Union closer and closer to Moscow.

This is a tragic and awful time for Ukraine. It is a hugely worrying time for Europe as the threat of escalation is ever present. But these are very high stakes and it is also potentially the end game for Putin's tsarist regime, as Russia risks becoming increasingly isolated and politically divided.

As corresponding members of the IGU, we are wholly in support of its Declaration on the Ukraine crisis:

The International Geographical Union notes with dismay the alarming situation in Ukraine and finds the invasion of a sovereign democratic nation by Russian forces senseless and unacceptable. These actions are undermining global security and stability and have led to deplorable human suffering and loss of life. In the interests of peace and stability in international relations, we call for an end to the hostilities and for a resolution that respects the sovereignty of Ukraine and all its people.

The International Geographical Union stands in solidarity with the people of Ukraine and its community of geographers, along with those in Russia who are courageously manifesting their rejection of war. We wish the citizens of Ukraine great strength in resisting and overcoming this shocking crisis.

Around 7,000 Russian scientists and scientific journalists, including 75 geography academics, defied the authorities by issuing an open letter to Putin opposing the war, before it was taken down. It stated that “The responsibility for unleashing a new war in Europe lies entirely with Russia... There is no rational justification for this war... Attempts to use the situation in Donbass as a pretext for launching a military operation do not inspire any confidence. It is clear that Ukraine does not pose a threat to the security of our country. The war against her is unfair and frankly senseless,” and demanding an immediate halt to all military operations directed against Ukraine.

Click here for link to full statement.

For background, we produced our magazine, The Geographer, on Ukraine and Energy security back in Summer 2014, soon after the annexation of the Crimea, which you can view online here.