To News and Stories

Restoring Ukrainian scientific infrastructure will cost over $1,21 billion – UNESCO

The study by UNESCO reveals that 1,443 buildings and laboratories in Ukraine, as well as 750 pieces of scientific equipment, have been damaged or destroyed due to Russian military aggression since February 2022. At the same time, about 12% of Ukrainian researchers from 524 educational establishments were forced to relocate either within Ukraine or abroad.

The National Academy of Legal Sciences of Ukraine was destroyed by a Russian missile strike on Kharkiv on January 23, 2024.
Photo from Oleh Syniehubov, Head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration

“As the situation becomes more and more critical for the scientific community, we must protect and support their research in Ukraine. Scientists, engineers, and other experts will be essential to the country’s recovery, not to mention what this sector represents as a valuable source of innovation and discovery for the rest of the world,” commented Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO Director-General.

Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine had a negative impact on the development of the Ukrainian scientific sector. According to a UNESCO new study, a total of 1,443 buildings belonging to 177 scientific institutions have been damaged or destroyed in Ukraine since February 2022. Restoring these buildings will cost more than $1,21 billion – including $980,5 million for universities alone, as these have suffered the greatest losses.

In particular, the Kharkiv region’s scientific infrastructure has been the most severely affected by Russian military aggression. The highest damage was caused to the Yaroslav Mudryi National Law University ($116,5 million) and the O. M. Beketov National University of Urban Economy ($104,1 million).

In addition, Russian shellings have damaged over 750 pieces of scientific and technical equipment in Ukraine, with 643 items damaged beyond repair. The total cost to restore this essential research equipment is estimated at $45,9 million.

Furthermore, Russia’s temporary occupation of Ukrainian territories has a significant impact: 18 scientific institutes have had to relocate, some of which were conducting studies on local biodiversity and ecology that cannot continue remotely. In particular, the Institute for Safety Problems of Nuclear Power Plants near Zaporizhzhia has suffered greatly due to the war. Local essential equipment for monitoring the state of the nuclear industry has been stolen or destroyed by Russian forces, including a unique radiological laboratory that controls radiation levels. As a result, the loss of this monitoring equipment represents a major security threat for the wider region.

Read more: What’s happening with Ukrainian Nuclear Power Plants?

Russian military aggression has also caused significant setbacks in Ukraine’s scientific community. The war has dispersed Ukrainian scientists across the country and even abroad, having a negative impact on their working conditions. After February 2022, about 10,429 out of 88,629 Ukrainian researchers and professors from 524 institutions and universities were forced to relocate either within Ukraine (4,887) or abroad (5,542). About 30% of Ukraine’s scientists are now having to work remotely. The total number of scientists employed by Ukraine’s public research sector has dropped by 5,3%.

Before the Russian full-scale invasion, Ukraine was internationally renowned for its important contributions to fields like Computer Science, Nuclear Physics, and Astronomy. From 2015 to 2019, the total volume of scientific publications (excluding social sciences, arts, and humanities) increased by 45%. In AI and Robotics alone, Ukrainian researchers produced 6,214 publications between 2012 and 2019.