Concerning the ongoing war in Ukraine

It has been thirteen days since Putin and his government started a full-scale war in Ukraine. Lots of information is lost in the mist of the war. But the truth of such an enormous tragedy can not be hidden nor covered with paint. 

Сivils all over Ukraine getting killed, among which are women, children, as well as elderly people, some of which have already seen the Second World War, eighty years ago. Ukrainian people lose their houses and their closed ones to fire and bombs. Modern Ukraine is living its greatest tragedy. Our thoughts go to victims of this war and their closed ones.

At the same time, Russia lives an economic and moral catastrophe. Russian ties with Ukraine are strong — many Russian have family and friends in Ukraine. Our relations and friendships are now getting bombed because of the paranoia of Putin and his criminal entourage. They will take generations to heal. 

Putin’s propaganda channels present this war as a « special operation » for peace-keeping. Some Russians are still in darkness about what is happening at the moment. Russians who know the scale of the tragedy are against it. Some of them protest in the streets, chanting « No War » and risking fifteen years of prison — since Russian government has just banned the use of the word « war » as a state treason. The last remaining independent medias in Russia have been completely shut down by a fresh « law against fakes ». Russian soldiers, some of them on contract, continue fighting Ukrainians because of fear of the orders of their generals, sometimes not knowing where they are going to fight and for what reason. Russian mothers can’t find their sons who won’t be coming back from the battlefield.

We condemn Putin and his government for their criminal and atrocious actions, and all the deaths that their orders involved on both sides. We join ourselves, as a Russian woman and a French man, to a call for peace that resonates in the entire world, and justice for those who are responsible for this war.

The project of the exhibition МАТЕМАТИКА was and still is an occasion for us to tell the world about our love to Russia, its cities, its nature, its mathematics, its people. This exhibition is about Russian women in mathematics, with their combats and dreams — those of popular mathematical education, advancing research and fostering joyful collaborations. We will pass the dreams on, and we will continue our work on this exhibition in this spirit. Of course, many of these dreams and lots of their work has been shaken by war, maybe even totally destroyed for several decades to come.

The exhibition МАТЕМАТИКА has initially been conceived to be presented at the World Meeting for Women in Mathematics, a satellite to the International Congress of Mathematicians originally planned in Saint-Petersburg in July 2022. The congress will obviously not be held in Russia anymore. The (WM)ˆ2 event will still hold remotely, on the 1st July 2022. Our exhibition will still be presented online and possibly offline as well. We are now discussing the details with our collaborators from the Committee of Women in Mathematics and will keep you in touch on this website. 

On a more personal note, we are thankful for the trip that we were able to make the last year (COVID-19 seemed as such a great obstacle at the time), getting in touch with Russia, meeting wonderful people along the road and working on this exhibition. But especially, for having an occasion of seeing our family. Today, we are not sure when we will see our parents next time again.

We are devastated by what this war has taken and takes from Ukraine, as well as what it brings to Russia and to the whole world. We hope that the fire will stop, and Ukraine regain its liberty and its peace, as will all countries at war today.

Written on the 8th March 2022, the thirteenth day of war in Ukraine by Olga and edited by Bertrand, for the team МАТЕМАТИКА

Scene from a rally against the war in Lyon, France, 27th of February, 2022.

Cover image: writing engraved on the ice of the Moïka, a river in St Petersburg, saying “No to war” being recovered by paint by municipal agents, beginning of march 2022. Source: MR7 ( — first picture have been retouched there since it displayed the now forbidden word of “war” in russian.