Max Planck President outlines aid package to Ukraine in the Senate

March 25, 2022

"Since 24 February 2022, my life story has divided into two parts: the part where I thought that war would never knock on the doors of Odessa again, and the part where the days are filled with air-raid sirens, blasts, bombers, curfews, fear, anger, tears, prayers and morale." With this description by a Max Planck alumna, Martin Stratmann opened his report in the Senate, in which he once again emphasised the Max Planck Society's clear stance in support of the Ukraine. As an international scientific organisation, however, the MPG also faces special challenges it has more than 400 employees from Ukraine and Russia.

In the first weeks after the start of the war in Ukraine, the Max Planck Society received queries about the possibility of providing accommodation in the guest houses of the Max Planck Institutes. In consultation with its funding providers, the MPG decided very quickly to offer effective assistance by providing temporary accommodation in its guest houses for refugees from Ukraine with affiliations to the MPG, where necessary also free of charge. An additional aid package has now been presented to the Senate. The MPG has set up a special fund of initially one million euros to finance follow-up contracts for temporarily employed Ukrainian staff at the Max Planck Institutes, as well as scholarships to accommodate further refugee guest and early career researchers from Ukraine. The MPIs can apply for these funds as needed. A number of Institutes have already expanded their guest programme with their own funds and are offering additional fellowships for the coming months. Thomas Sattelberger, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) thanked the Max Planck Society for supporting refugee scientists from Ukraine.

The President reported that the MPG had also established contact with the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences. There is an exchange about a joint Memorandum of Understanding. Despite the currently really difficult conditions, medium- and long-term support options for science in Ukraine are being considered. With the establishment of partner groups for former Ukrainian postdocs, the MPG would have a proven instrument for building institutional networks. The MPG would also be prepared to get involved in the scientific and administrative implementation of a "Dioscuri"-like programme in Ukraine.

Cooperation with state institutions in Russia and Belarus has been suspended until further notice. At the MPG, this particularly affects major cooperation projects with Russia such as FAIR, Icarus, eRosita, ZOTTO and ExoMars. Thomas Sattelberger announced a round table with representatives of science to discuss the further handling of these major international projects. In principle, the attitude that individual contacts with Russian researchers should not be completely broken off prevailed in the Senate.

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