The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Reading has signed a 1,000-strong petition launched by staff and students at its partner institution in Moscow opposing Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

Robert Van de Noort is encouraging members of the university in Reading to add their signature, as he branded the Russian president a “demagogue” imposing horror and suffering on Ukraine.

The university has had an academic exchange programme with the Moscow State Institute of International Relations since 2013, members of which have called for the immediate end to the war.

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“I will do all I can to support these colleagues and students, who are applying their knowledge and principles to stand openly in defiance of the Russian leadership and call for peace,” wrote Mr Van de Noort in an open letter.

He said: “In common with people all over the world, we look on in horror as we witness the dreadful human cost of the invasion of Ukraine by Russian military forces.

He continued: “We all hope for an end to the invasion and the violence it has created, and a swift, peaceful resolution. At such times, we must look to our own actions to see if anything we could do might help to bring this about.

“I have therefore asked University colleagues to review any activities that might support the government of Russia, which is responsible for the invasion.”

Read more: How to support people in Ukraine right now

Mr Van de Noort said the university was in contact with Universities UK who working with the Home Office, Department for Education, and others in UK Government to support students in the UK, Ukraine, and Russia.

“I am extremely grateful to those students and colleagues today who are already working to support refugees, community groups and others who need help.”

The Vice-Chancellor concluded: “Demagogues build wars from lies and ignorance; but we can counter this with truth and understanding.

“This is the currency of our University. We are well-placed, and have a duty, to deploy facts in pursuit of peace.”