Russian beneficiaries of UK RD&I funding could be included in sanctions against Russia, minister says
The UK government has announced that it is reviewing its science and innovation ties with Russia, as part of a wider package of sanctions against Russia following its ongoing attack on Ukraine.
Science minister George Freeman said on Twitter on 27 February that he had instigated a “rapid” review of Russian beneficiaries of funding via the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (Beis).
“As part of our package of economic sanctions against Putin, Kremlin and Russia,” Freeman wrote, “I have instigated a rapid Beis review of all Russian beneficiaries (whether academic collaborators, companies or directors) of UK science, research, technology and innovation funding.”
He tagged the national funding agency, UK Research and Innovation, in his comment.
A UKRI spokesperson said: “In line with the UK government, UKRI is currently reviewing its active research projects with Russian partners. We will not be commenting further at this stage.”
A Beis spokesperson said: “As part of our package of economic sanctions following Russia’s criminal invasion of Ukraine, the UK government is rapidly reviewing research collaboration with Russian beneficiaries of UK science and innovation funding.”
Research Professional News understands that the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, has asked the department to rapidly review Russian beneficiaries—such as academic institutions and firms—of UK science, research, technology, and innovation funding, and that changes resulting from this review would be announced in due course.
Wide condemnation and offers of help
Russia’s attack on Ukraine has been widely criticised by many in the science and higher education sectors, and has led to a halt in university and R&D activities in Ukraine.
Organisations that provide support for academics at risk are expecting to help Ukrainian scholars soon. For example, the UK-based Council for At-Risk Academics said it would “expect approaches” from Ukrainian academics and “from Russians, too, who detest what the Putin regime is doing”.
The International Science Council, which is a partner in the Science in Exile programme, said: “We are gravely concerned by the threats to scientific freedom and responsibility caused by the new conflict in Europe, and stand in solidarity with the scientific community affected.
“We are closely monitoring the situation through our Committee for Freedom and Responsibility in Science.”
The non-profit Scholars at Risk said it was “certain” that its network members around the world “share deep concern for our Ukrainian colleagues”.
“As requests for support come in, we will be reaching out to our network for opportunities and additional resources as needed to support colleagues affected in the region,” SaR said. “In the meantime, we will be following the events closely to assess the immediate and longer-term needs, and our capacity to respond within our mandate.”