The Institute reached out to Russian IEEE members to get their views regarding the war, as citizens, engineers, and IEEE members. Here we share the thoughts of Roman L. Gorbunov, a member of the Siberia section. As our regular readers might know, we sometimes publish opinion articles. These should not be interpreted as official positions of The Institute, IEEE Spectrum or of the IEEE. We publish such articles to promote discussion and for the insights they reveal about the plurality of views among IEEE members. This Q&A contains views that are at odds with international reporting on the war in Ukraine. For the latest on civilian casualties in Ukraine, see UN Office of High Commissioner for Human Rights. And for first-hand accounts of the war by two Ukrainian engineers, see Hanna's story and Volodymyr's story.
Are you confident that you are getting sufficient information about the situation in Ukraine to be well informed about it?
Roman Gorbunov: I don’t feel I’m informed about the situation in Ukraine. I believe that no one knows what is really happening. We see some facts, which look quite realistic, followed by numerous very questionable interpretations. Definitely, the whole picture isn’t clear. Even those who are in Ukraine now don’t know what is really happening in their country, but only the situation next to them. For example, my friend told me about her parents in Ukraine. Currently they are in a bomb shelter near Dnipro. They know what is happening around them, but there is no information about the situation in the country.
What are your primary sources of information regarding the war?
Gorbunov: Primarily I get information from the Internet news agencies, both Russian and international [https://ria.ru/, https://www.rbc.ru/, https://meduza.io/, and the websites of The New York Times, The Guardian, and CNN]. They are very contradictory, sometimes even within a single agency. I’m sure in a situation like this there couldn’t be a reliable source of information. I try to avoid taking public news seriously and just monitor the obvious facts, such as official positions of the countries' representatives, and declarations of the international companies and organizations.
Have there been any discussions among members of your section with regard to the situation in Ukraine? How would you characterize that discussion?
Gorbunov: There were several special meetings of our executive committee. Also we are constantly discussing the situation with each other. Everyone is deeply concerned about the catastrophe in Ukraine. We are terribly sorry that this is happening and hope the conflict will be over as soon as possible. We appeal to the IEEE to not discriminate against Russian members, engineers, and researchers.
“I believe that no one knows what is really happening. We see some facts, which look quite realistic, followed by numerous very questionable interpretations.”
Read Next: Stories of the War in Ukraine
Many IEEE members in Ukraine are fleeing the violence, while others have had their professional lives upended. Two of those members shared their stories with us.
These first-person accounts from IEEE members are part of The Institute collection “Stories of the War in Ukraine.”
Are there any members of your section who have been directly affected by the war, or are involved in it because of their work or because of a personal connection?
Gorbunov: No one I know is involved.
Have the international sanctions begun affecting your IEEE section, or your professional situation?
Gorbunov: At the moment we are not able to comprehend the full scale of the consequences of the new sanctions. In fact, that uncertainty is the main obstacle now. Product suppliers can’t guarantee the price nor the availability of electronic parts and equipment in the near future. It forces everyone to halt the projects they’re working on and search for alternative solutions.
Are you able to share your own perspective on the situation in Ukraine?
Gorbunov: I have a personal view regarding the preconditions, goals, and parties involved in this war, but I’m sure that the situation is much more complicated than I can imagine. Therefore instead of giving my own perspective I’ll provide the facts I truly believe in. They serve as the fundamental basis for my logical deductions.
- I believe the Russian people wish for peace on Earth. Striving for peace and justice has been in our genes since the Second World War.
- I believe the Russian warriors do everything they can in order to avoid harming civilians. I am 30 years old and it is impossible for me to imagine my peers harming innocent people. A Russian soldier or captain would rather sacrifice himself than take an innocent life.
- I believe that Russian soldiers and captains will never fight for something they do not believe in. Money doesn't matter.
- I believe that restricting or isolating Russia will do nothing but worsen the situation. A better strategy would be to try to understand the real motivation of the conflict and use this understanding in a way to help Ukraine and Russia in their negotiations.
Do you have any other thoughts to share?
Gorbunov: I want you to understand that striving for peace has been cultivated in Russians since our childhoods. The Government, and especially the Russian President, make enormous efforts to ensure that we do not forget about the tragedies of any war. There are many veterans of the Chechen War, in the 1990s, who are among us today.
On March 7 I visited the Jewish Museum and Tolerance Center in Moscow. This center and many others across the country powerfully remind us about the evils of any war. We do remember how awful and horrible the Second World War was and about its consequences for every nation. I can’t imagine that our country can be an aggressor. I mean, there has to be another explanation of what we see in Ukraine today and why this terrible battle is considered as something inevitable. I appeal to the competent professionals and scientists to reconstitute an entire picture with careful understanding of its parts. This is a crucial task for preventing tragic situations like this in the future.