Director's Statement Marking One Year of Russia's Full-Scale War on Ukraine


On 24 February 2023 the world marks a grim anniversary. One year ago, the Russian Federation, led by president Vladimir Putin, renewed their ambition to invade the neighbouring state of Ukraine and launched a full-scale military assault that has not been stopped yet, forcing the world to enter a geopolitical crisis of enormous proportions not seen since the Second World War. The course of history as we know it changed dramatically. In Canada people have been dealing with the repercussions of the Russian war in Ukraine on a daily basis, as they face economic inflation and high energy prices. Regardless, they watch or call for our nation’s leaders to increase support for Ukraine in its effort to defend not only its territory but importantly key values upon which rest global peace, order, and democracy. These are values that lie at the foundation of Canada as a democratic state.
Putin’s ambition to occupy Ukraine has been accompanied by his repeatedly proclaimed determination to deny Ukraine not only its territory but also its own history, culture, and language, making both these pursuits clearly of a neo-colonial and neo-imperial nature. The war has displaced some 15 million people from their homes in Ukraine, the population has suffered deaths and injuries on an enormous scale, and Ukrainian infrastructure and cities are regularly shelled. In the occupied territories invaders are burning Ukrainian books, removing Ukrainian textbooks from schools, destroying institutions of learning, and threatening Ukrainian children and people into denouncing their Ukrainian citizenship and identity.
With the relaunch of Russia’s genocidal war on Ukraine on 24 February 2022, the Canadian Institute of Ukrainian Studies immediately engaged with the global community of scholars and the general public, highlighting the historical roots of the war and the magnitude of devastation it has brought upon the people of Ukraine. CIUS has financially supported displaced and disrupted Ukrainian scholars, launched new research initiatives, and upgraded existing projects and research portfolios to refocus our work on the urgent needs of today. We will continue to adjust and prioritize as long as needed, until Ukraine’s victory.
CIUS stands with Ukraine in its fight against the Russian occupation and Kremlin’s assault on global democracy and peace. We are grateful to the University of Alberta community for supporting the citizens of Ukraine in these difficult times. We further express our sincere thanks to all volunteers in our diverse communities across the nation who continue to look after the well-being of continuously arriving displaced persons from Ukraine, seeking asylum and peace in Canada while far away from their war-torn homes. We call on the world to not fail Ukraine, stay vigilant in light of ongoing Russian propaganda attacks on the global media space, and strengthen the protection of the democratic principles of global peace and cooperation that were brutally violated by Russia’s illegal occupation of Crimea and the Donbas in 2014 and the all-out invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.


Dr. Natalia Khanenko-Friesen
Director, CIUS