[This story was updated on March 7 to reflect new developments.]
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, some Russian climbers have publicly spoken out against their country’s aggression. In a country known for reprisals against people who openly oppose President Vladimir Putin’s regime, this act involves personal risk.
Until March 4, when the Russian government passed new censorship laws to crack down on dissent against the country’s invasion of Ukraine, the Russian climbing website Mountain.RU posted an open letter against the war, which hundreds of people had signed by March 2.
“Here in Russia we all understand the risk, up to 20 years [in prison] for high treason, but we decided we can’t keep silent,” one of the authors of the letter wrote in an email to journalists and community members.
The translated version of the letter reads:
No war. The appeal of the Russians
FRIENDS, IT CAN BE COPYED, POSTED ON YOUR PAGE AND SIGNED. THE APPEAL OF THE RUSSIANS
The outbreak of the war between Russia and Ukraine is a SHAME.
This is OUR shame, but, unfortunately, our children, a generation of very young and unborn Russians, will also have to bear responsibility for it. We do not want our children to live in an aggressor country, so that they are ashamed that their army attacked a neighboring independent state. We call on all citizens of Russia to say NO to this war.
We do not believe that an independent Ukraine poses a threat to Russia or any other state. We do not believe in Vladimir Putin’s statements that the Ukrainian people are under the rule of “Nazis///Tovs” and need to be “liberated.” We demand an end to this war!
Meanwhile, many Ukrainian climbers have shared requests for solidarity and aid for their country as the war rages on. As Gripped reports, Ukrainian World Cup climber Jenya Kazbekova posted a statement on Instagram condemning the invasion and urging more Russians to speak out against it:
I never thought that it would come to this in the 21st century. I never thought that I would have to flee my home because of the bombing. I never thought that I would wake up every day and pray that all my loved ones and relatives were still alive!… [M]y dear friends from Russia, and I have a lot of them, don’t be silent, please! Tell everyone about what is really happening in Ukraine! Show non-Russian sources of information, try to help your population to turn on critical thinking and common sense. Stop propaganda! At least in your realm of influence…. It depends on all of us what kind of world we [will] live in.
Kazbekova concludes: “We will stand because Ukraine will never give up its freedom!”
Some Ukrainian climbers have expressed intentions to join the ranks of combat troops to fight the invasion. Many Ukrainian civilians continue to take up arms like the women in this video shared by the New York Times.
As noted in our story on February 25, the International Olympic Committee called for the cancellation of all sporting events that were scheduled in Russia and Belarus, and in turn the International Federation of Sport Climbing (IFSC) and the International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) canceled the World Cup sport and ice climbing competitions that were slated to take place in March and April.