Prof. Dr. Leonid Yatsenko fled from Ukraine with his family. He is a guest in the research group of Prof. Dr. Arno Rauschenbeutel at the Institute of Physics and was recently invited by the Presidential Board of the HU to report on the tragic events in his home country. In this interview, he describes how much the war in Ukraine has changed his life, what he wishes for and what drives him.
The questions were posed on March 30, 2022, by Hans-Christoph Keller, spokesperson for the Humboldt-Universität.
– What do you think is still missing in terms of support? In my opinion, the European Union is doing everything possible to support the refugees from Ukraine. What the refugees really want, however, is to return home as fast as possible. So the most important support would be anything that would force Russia into a more constructive position in the negotiations with Ukraine. This could be more anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons provisions for the Ukrainian military and even tougher sanctions imposed against Russia, up to the complete renunciation of Russian gas and oil. This would significantly accelerate the Ukrainian victory or cessation of hostilities on fair terms and would result in the vast majority of refugees returning home as soon as possible.
– Is enough being done for academics fleeing Ukraine to Germany? … All in all, in my opinion, a lot has been done for scientists who left Ukraine, but many remain in Ukraine and need support as well. Many colleagues continue to work in the terrible conditions of the war in Kyiv or Kharkiv, under constant fire from the Russians, while others find themselves in difficult circumstances as internally displaced persons. As far as I know, there is only one example of Western aid in this direction. The Wolfgang Pauli Institute (WPI) Vienna led by Prof. Dr. Norbert Mauser, supported Ukrainian colleagues in mathematics, physics and related natural sciences who remain in Ukraine by paying them “flat rate scholarships” for an initial short period (WPI fellowship for the Ukrainian researchers). Eventually the war will end and it will be time to compensate for the losses. The Ukrainian scientific community will urgently need the EU’s help, so it would be advisable to draw up plans for such support now.
About Leonid Yatsenko:
Leonid Yatsenko was a Post-graduate student at Lebedev Physical Institute, Moscow until 1979. From 1979 until 1986 he was a junior research fellow at the Institute of Physics National Academy of Sciences, Kyiv, Ukraine. Until 1997, he was a senior research fellow there and before he became 2007 the director of the Institute Institute of Physics National Academy of Sciences, Kyiv, until 2018, he was a leading research fellow. Since 2006 he is the head of the department of the Institute of Physics National Academy of Coherent and Quantum Optics Sciences. Until February 2022 he was the the Head of the National Research Foundation of Ukraine (NRFU).