Last week, 10 months after Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited Washington, D.C. to ask for additional U.S. help to finally end the conflict. Russian attack on Ukrainian nuclear power planteven as Russia’s Threat to Use Nuclear WeaponsAmong other measures, Zelensky called on the United States to “increase tariffs” on Russia to make the war financially unsustainable. This will particularly affect areas of scientific and technological research in which Russia has traditionally excelled, such as physics, space exploration and climate science.
But despite Western powers’ broad support for Ukraine, breaking up scientific and technological cooperation between the United States and Russia has proven difficult. In many cases, U.S. scientists themselves have shown resistance, arguing that their and their colleagues’ work is important and urgent and cannot be disrupted, especially as global warming accelerates. doing.
A few days before Zelensky’s speech, an editorial Nature The magazine said science should not be treated like a “diplomatic pawn” and that war “should not be a barrier to countries working together” to tackle pressing scientific problems such as climate change. Physicist Michael Riordan of the University of California, Santa Cruz argued that new york times “I am a physicist and I do not want Russia to leave the world of science.”
Others see things differently. “During the Cold War, Russia was a scientific powerhouse,” Marsha McNutt, president of the US National Academy of Sciences, told The Daily Beast. When you look at today’s big problems like gene editing, it’s hard to believe that Russia is at the forefront.”
At the same time that Russia’s scientific contributions have weakened, Ukraine has emerged as a scientific leader in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, especially in the areas of agricultural research and nuclear energy.
When Russia invaded Ukraine for the first time on February 24 last year, Europe responded quickly and cut ties with Russia. This included a commitment to science and technology.Germany announced that all scientific cooperation with Russia will end the next day, and Other European Union member states soon followed with a similar blanket ban. CERN, the Swiss multinational particle physics laboratory and home of the famous Large Hadron Collider, Suspended Russian membership in early March, as the European Space Agency and the Max Planck Institute have done. ESA’s actions were particularly important as a joint Mars rover mission with Russia. I am completely at a loss for the time being.
“Looking at today’s big problems like gene editing, I doubt Russia is at the forefront.“
— Marsha McNutt, National Academy of Sciences
In contrast, the US scientific community’s response has been somewhat uneven. The Biden administration remained silent on the status of US-Russia cooperation until June. That month, they announced that the United States would begin to “scale back” all currently federally funded research projects affiliated with Russia, banning new projects.
“Given the war crimes and other atrocities committed by Russia, it was very important to make a clear statement in support of Ukraine,” said one of the officials who was involved in the debate, but has since been involved in the discussion by another member of the administration. said a senior government official who was transferred to work. The Daily Beast on condition of anonymity.
“At the same time, however, we recognize the strategic need to engage with Russia to avoid the global destruction looming in the Cold War,” he said.
Since the start of the war, Russia has targeted Ukraine’s scientific infrastructure. The Ukrainian Institute of Physics and Technology in Kharkov was heavily damaged by a Russian bomb. At Chernobyl and other nuclear power plants and research facilities, the Russian military has looted or destroyed millions of dollars worth of high-tech equipment and computers. At least 20 Ukrainian universities were completely destroyed.
To prevent a war from falling into the complete destruction of Ukraine’s higher education institutions and the possibility of a nuclear disaster, the Biden administration has refrained from completely severing scientific ties with Russia. For all things science and technology. His four-month gap between the invasion and policy announcement “reflects the nature of the U.S. science enterprise,” likely due to the U.S.’s “decentralized research community,” senior government officials said. rice field.
Culturally, the scientific community has always been immune to the international divides that characterize many other fields of research. Many scientists are reluctant to have to cut off group access or partnerships for the sake of war. For example, one of CERN’s mottos is ‘Science for Peace’.
“There is ample evidence that many Russian scientists do not want to be involved in Putin’s war. We want to ensure that,” the official said.
“Many of the people we talk to know each other or have worked with each other in some way or another for years and decades. they are friends.”
— Raymond Jeanloz, University of California, Berkeley
Raymond Jeanroz, professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of California, Berkeley, told The Daily Beast: “Many of the people we talk to know each other or have worked together in some way for years and decades. They are friends.” He is also chairman of the Security and Arms Control Committee. This commission is a private, non-profit, non-governmental organization funded primarily by federal grants. That survey will be used to inform OSTP.
The general consensus is that it is not fair to judge individual scientists based on government actions. In fact, thousands of Russian scientists signed a letter condemning the invasion shortly after it happened.
But Russian science is closely tied to the Russian government.of many At least some of the country’s scientists are funded by the Russian government.
And the election of the leadership of the Russian Academy of Sciences in September provided evidence of state intervention. The incumbent president withdrew his candidacy the day before the election.forced decisionGennady Krasnikov, head of Micron, Russia’s largest semiconductor maker, was elected instead.
In April, the Biden administration imposed sanctions on Micron in a broader committee on sanctions against Russia’s aerospace, marine and electronics industries. Another sanction in August saw the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltech), which he founded in 2011 as a partnership with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, aimed at building a Russian version of Silicon Valley. announced by MIT It was closing a $3 billion partnership in February, a day after the invasion.
on earth and above
Climate change research is a difficult, if not irreplaceable, area for Russia to contribute. Most of the world’s permafrost, which scientists track to measure the rate of global warming, is in Russia. Russia currently chairs the Arctic Council, a consortium of eight countries promoting cooperation on climate change research. At dozens of Russian research stations, international teams of scientists are drilling boreholes into the earth to collect permafrost samples.
Shortly after the invasion began, seven other members of the Arctic Council, including the United States, withdrew from the council. Then they resumed their studies without Russia. Part of the research has been transferred to Canada and Greenland, which have their own permafrost reserves. But it still paints an incomplete picture and may not accurately reflect what’s happening to Russia’s permafrost, a big problem that a single degree change can throw the entire model out of whack.
“It’s the difference between ice and water,” said Brendan Kelly, a professor of marine biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and a member of the International Arctic Research Center. “I can’t get involved [Russia] Serious damage. It will be a huge loss for those of us trying to understand what is happening in the Arctic on an Arctic-wide scale. ”
“Inability to get involved [Russia] Serious damage. It is a huge loss for those of us trying to understand what is happening in the Arctic on an Arctic-wide scale.“
— Brendan Kelly, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Kelly said Russians have contributed a lot to our knowledge of the climate. But at the same time, they said, “The best team in terms of data sharing. He wasn’t a player..According to Kelly, it’s been a problem for decades.
In other areas of science, complete schism is nearly impossible. Perhaps the classic example is the International Space Station. It was jointly developed by the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada and the European Space Agency, and the first components were launched in 1998. The ISS literally cannot operate without both Russia and the US, which provide propulsion and power, respectively. Scientists on the station primarily conduct experiments to see how things work under microgravity and to prepare for long-term spaceflights. for decades, Praised as an example of international cooperation, between parties that do not always share the same goals in other areas of geopolitics. And in order to protect the lives of astronauts aboard the ISS, the space programs of both countries had to prevent a sour relationship in other areas.
But as the invasion progressed, that insulation eroded. In July, Russian astronauts on the ISS staged a photo with Russian and anti-Ukrainian flags in a propaganda episode that received “strong condemnation” from NASA. Russia announces withdrawal from ISS It was to focus on building its own structure, but later withdrew it and confirmed its participation through 2028 (a few years before the station officially closed in 2031).
And in September, NASA and the Russian space agency Roscosmos teamed up to send astronaut Franck Rubio and two astronauts to the ISS on a Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft launched from Kazakhstan. I was.
After all, there are no easy actions that satisfy everyone involved. “Obviously, war is obscene,” Kelly added. “It is a devastating humanitarian crisis. I don’t know how to split a baby here.It’s not an easy call.”
Currently, the total destruction of Ukraine is vast.Almost 7,000 Ukrainian civilians have died since the war beganaccording to the United Nations, Ukraine’s scientific infrastructure and nuclear power plants continue to come under threat from the Russian military.
“I don’t know how to split the baby here. It’s not an easy call.“
— Brendan Kelly, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Many American scientists hope that the conflict will end soon and that relations with their Russian counterparts will return to some degree of normalcy, but the war is an inflection point, and the West will continue to push science across the board. Some believe that it may and should prompt people to reconsider their partnerships.
Some even think that Ukraine itself will help fill the void left by Russia. To that end, NAS has set up a kind of exchange program to set up Ukrainian scientists who have lost positions in Western universities and research institutes.
“Ukraine needs researchers to rebuild. Russia has suffered considerably less damage in this war,” McNutt said. He is not talking about the need to rebuild Russia. “