With the war in Ukraine, international research cooperation suffers
InvestigationRussia's exclusion from collaborating on publications and in-kind contributions has disrupted the scientific world and major international projects.
It was one of the French National Center for Scienctif Research's (CNRS) longest-standing collaborations in Russia, dating back some 20 years. The Interdisciplinary Scientific Center J.-V. Poncelet, which started off as a simple French-Russian joint research unit in mathematics in Moscow, gradually expanded its research fields to include theoretical physics, statistical mechanics and condensed matter. Designed to be a "cooperation platform and crystalization center for French-Russian collaborations," to quote the press releases issued by the French-state organization the CNRS, everything came to a halt on February 24, 2022.
"The Russian invasion was announced during the night. In the following hours, on Thursday morning, we discussed the issue at the management committee meeting. On Thursday afternoon, I asked the director of this international research laboratory to repatriate all staff immediately," recalled Thierry Dauxois, director of the French National Physics Institute. As the head of one of the ten institutes making up the CNRS, the physicist acknowledged that, "from a scientific point of view, the situation created by the war is a difficult one." The CNRS has also repatriated staff from the French Research Institute in Moscow and the International Laboratory of Archaeozoology in Novosibirsk.
Overnight, the French research institution halted no fewer than 65 "structured collaborations" between French and Russian researchers or laboratories that benefited from specific funding from the CNRS. Cooperation on intense lasers, for example, could not be continued. "This is inconvenient for researchers, but they understand," said Dauxois, before adding that "some individual collaborations have been authorized to continue, for example, to finalize an article." Institutional exchanges have also been discontinued as of March 2, 2022, as was announced in a CNRS press release.
The sanctions imposed by the European Union against Russia have been mirrored in France. Symposiums, ideal opportunities for exchanges between researchers in the same discipline, have been canceled. Among them was a major physics symposium scheduled to coincide with the re-inauguration of the Poncelet Center in Moscow on June 15, 2022, to mark the renewal of the French-Russian agreement.
Avoid damaging the future
Not a single Russian has visited the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) in Grenoble, designed to host researchers from all over Europe to conduct their experiments and observations, since March 29, 2022. On that day, over a month after the start of the war in Ukraine, the board of directors, composed of representatives of the 21 member and associate countries without Russia, unanimously decided to suspend new scientific and technical collaborations with Russian institutes. Even though Russia's financial contribution represents 6% of the budget of the 320-meter-diameter particle accelerator, its equal "access rights" to ESRF facilities were frozen.
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