We are into the 8th month of Russia’s war against Ukraine. It is estimated that the war has caused almost USD $50bn damage to housing infrastructure, $9bn damage to business infrastructure, $4bn damage to educational infrastructure, to pick just a few Statista stats. Ukraine is about 233,000 sq mi (roughly: Texas), with a population of 44m (roughly: California) — of which maybe 35% have been displaced by the conflict. One in three people displaced; one in six have had to flee to other countries, including 2m children. It is pretty much impossible to imagine trying to keep your business going, trying to keep earning your living, in such circumstances. “Solidarity” with Ukraine has come in several guises. How has the scholarly publishing sector continued to respond?

Ribbons in the colors of the national flag of Ukraine are tied to a handrail

  • Bans: Russia has been banned from the forthcoming Frankfurt Book Fair, as it was banned from the London Book Fair earlier this year.
  • Books: Trade publishers have worked to print Ukrainian-language books to help displaced children in the UK, Germany and Italy. You can support the Federation of European Publishers’ campaign (which has so far distributed 20,000 books) here.
  • Jobs: The Polish Book Chamber has launched an initiative to help Ukrainian refugees find publishing jobs. #ScienceForUkraine is a group of volunteers supporting the continuation of research within Ukraine and / or by displaced Ukrainian researchers by collating information, providing materials and helping people find new jobs – success stories are shared on Twitter. (Karin Wulf wrote in April about the “other way round” challenges of scholars elsewhere trying to continue their studies of Russia and Eastern Europe).
  • Hardship: There are various fundraisers to support Ukrainian publishing professionals who have lost income – for example, this one by the German Publishers’ and Booksellers’ Association, the Börsenverein which will distribute funds via the Ukrainian Association of Publishers and Booksellers; DOAJ and EIFL are among those who launched the SUES (Supporting Ukrainian Editorial Staff) which has raised over $20,000.
  • Reporting: you may have seen “Next Generation Leader” Olga Rudenko on the front of Time magazine. You can help her online newspaper, the Kyiv Independent, keep reporting from the frontline.
  • Military support: The Ukrainian Library Association (ULA) asks you to donate money to the Ukrainian army (via the special fundraising account opened by the National Bank of Ukraine, which has also opened an account to raise funds for humanitarian rather than military assistance). The Ukrainian Library Association’s statement from March is heartfelt, heartrending, and powerful in its requests, which (to focus on those most relevant to our sector) includes (I quote)
    • “ask your governments to officially ban (or at least recommend to stop) accessing scientific information resources produced by your publishers and providers for Russian Federation;”
    • “stop all professional connections, not to participate in common projects with libraries, other educational and cultural institutions of the Russian Federation and representatives of these institutions;”
    • “ask the international organizations, of which you and your institutions are members, to exclude all Russian institutions from its members, and their representatives from governing bodies;”
    • “share true information about this war”
Some of the ULA’s points pick up on issues raised in Lisa Janicke Hinchliffe and Roger Schonfeld’s post in March about decoupling from Russia. The big publishers have released various statements (joint statement in March, other statements from Elsevier, IOP Publishing, Wiley, SAGE, ACS, RSC, Bristol University Press) about stopping sales and closing offices in Russia, making content free to Ukrainians, and making humanitarian donations. (I found this point in BRILL’s statement particularly unique and important: “This war shows again how vital the humanities are. Against the falsification of history, we need good historical analysis. For a proper understanding of a conflict, knowledge of languages, culture and religions is just as necessary as economic and political analysis.”)
While some journals are boycotting Russian authors, publishers mostly seem to have have stopped commercial engagement with Russia while continuing to publish content by Russian authors, pointing to COPE’s guidance, that “Editorial decisions should not be affected by the origins of the manuscript, including the nationality, ethnicity, political beliefs, race, or religion of the authors“. This is controversial and there is much debate about whether boycotts are appropriate or effective (e.g., this thread). Libraries also have ethical challenges — Laura Saunders of Simmons University is quoted in a piece last week in The Conversation about libraries and weaponized information, picking up on the challenge of “collecting, organizing and making accessible information that is known to be inaccurate or discredited so that it is not being censored but also is not being promoted as a legitimate or authoritative source.”
Please add any other initiatives you are aware of in the comments.
Charlie Rapple

Charlie Rapple

Charlie Rapple is co-founder of Kudos, which showcases research to accelerate and broaden its reach and impact. She is also Vice Chair of UKSG and serves on the Editorial Board of UKSG Insights. @charlierapple.bsky.social, x.com./charlierapple and linkedin.com/in/charlierapple. In past lives, Charlie has been an electronic publisher at CatchWord, a marketer at Ingenta, a scholarly comms consultant at TBI Communications, and associate editor of Learned Publishing.


10 Thoughts on "8 Months On: Ukraine Still Needs Our Support"

dear Charly,
many thanks for your contribution!
very thoughtful,
best Matthias

The Russian government’s attack on Ukraine is largely funded by revenues from oil and gas exports. Publishers can reduce their contribution to this funding by de-gasification of heating in their office buildings, switching all company cars to electric vehicles and replacing the majority of business travel with online meetings.

This strategy would also have the happy coincidence of aligning with much-needed efforts to reduce carbon emissions within the publishing industry. (And no, carbon offsetting does not count.)

I’m with you in principle though I think most of the countries where publishers are based have stopped buying Russian fuel? I don’t know much about this and have been Googling without getting to a definitive answer (“Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States imposed outright bans on Russian oil purchases” in May but what about gas .. “EU nations will stop buying Russian crude oil imported by sea from 5 December” but what about gas / pipelines, etc.). Either way I’d support your overall point that we as a sector need to continue / increase our efforts to reduce fuel consumption. There’s a major publisher across the road from me that keeps its lights on ALL NIGHT. You have inspired / reminded me to find someone there I can raise that with.

I agree that some steps have been taken to reduce consumption of Russian oil and gas, but much more could be done to complete the process. For example 30% of diesel in the UK comes from Russia. (Source BBC News.) So reducing diesel consumption would reduce revenue to the Russian government and would also improve both local air quality and reduce carbon emissions.

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