Espreso. Global

Ukrainian polar explorers explain why they don't buy drones using funds for Antarctic research

28 May, 2024 Tuesday

National Antarctic Research Center responds to allegations of alleged misappropriation of public funds, that Ukraine spends millions on penguins instead of drones


The National Antarctic Research Center said in a statement. 

They emphasized that the statements that “Ukraine spends millions on penguins instead of drones” and “the Antarctic program should be stopped during the war” are manipulative. 

The National Academy of Sciences explained that they cannot allocate funds from Antarctic research to purchase drones or other military needs, as the Antarctic research program is funded from the part of the state budget that is provided exclusively for humanitarian expenditures. In addition, these funds are allocated by international partners, who set the condition that the aid be spent only on civilian needs.

At the same time, the program is funded through international projects and cooperation. For example, the Polish Antarctic Program has been partially funding the expeditions of the Noosphere research vessel for three years. The National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine won funding for three more projects on a competitive basis in the European Commission's Horizon program.

“Another fiction about funding: the program budget has allegedly increased 10 times since 2022. The disseminators of information show a screen of only one tender for 2022 for the inter-ship service of Noosphere, that is, without the costs of the ship's actual voyages, Vernadsky station, etc.  In fact, in 2022-2024, the budget of the Antarctic program is stable, which can be checked in open sources, in particular, the laws on the State Budget and on the same Prozorro,” the statement said. 

The polar explorers also emphasized that the Antarctic program cannot be suspended during the war: it can either be continued or liquidated, as the mission's scientists conduct continuous observations, the termination of which would “zero out” Ukrainian efforts and investments of the previous three decades. In addition, if the infrastructure of the Academician Vernadsky station is not maintained, it will collapse, and the Noosphere icebreaker will be scrapped, so the station will have to be built from scratch after the victory. The National Academy of Sciences points out that the cost of this will be much higher than supporting the program now. 

“Another important nuance is political. Ukraine is one of several dozen countries that have year-round stations in the Antarctic and the right to vote in the Antarctic Treaty (and all decisions are made by consensus). That is, we have a real influence on deciding the fate of the Antarctic, as well as a voice on an important international platform, which we actively use, among other things, to inform about Russian aggression and counteract Russia's activities. By the way, Russia has several stations in the Antarctic, finances all of them, and some of them are being modernized even during the war, and will be very happy if Ukraine stops exploring the Antarctic and participating in the Treaty,” the National Academy of Sciences added.

What Ukraine’s Ministry of Education and Science says

The Minister of Education and Science of Ukraine Oksen Lisovyi defended the polar explorers, saying that Russia had launched a real information attack against them.

“Firstly, let me remind you that 24 polar explorers continue to defend Ukraine today. Our freedom and independence. Our values. And in this paradigm of values, education and science are definitely not the last,” he wrote on Facebook.

“It is no exaggeration to say that world-class science is being done in the Antarctic, and Ukraine is a part of it. Our researchers are studying such phenomena as the ozone hole, global warming, the Earth's magnetic field, and others. And thanks to our own station, we can participate in many international scientific initiatives,” the minister added.

Lisovyi called support for the Antarctic program a strategic issue. He is convinced that despite the challenges of war, Ukraine must look for ways to develop science.

“And we will continue to do so, attracting the support of international partners,” the head of the Ministry of Education and Science summarized.

  • On March 11, the 29th Ukrainian Antarctic expedition, consisting of 14 participants, left Kyiv for the Vernadsky Research Station. 

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