Russian research hindered as UK sanctions clamp down on universities

British universities are facing a potential ban on collaborating with Russian institutions over academic research. This comes as the government seeks to distance itself from Russia after its invasion of Ukraine. Many universities in the UK rely on working with Russian academics and scientists for research, mostly to do with climate science.

The sanctions from the Western hemisphere grow tighter around the Russian economy with international banks, businesses, and embassies halting operations en masse. The potential cut-off for Russian universities and academics to be able to access international research journals and work alongside foreign institutions in research projects appears to be another step in the West’s efforts to deter Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. The pre-existing restrictions on sending funds to research projects from abroad and the prohibition of receiving vital electronics, telecommunications, and aerospace equipment has already affected the operations of many universities across Russia, but the intentions from mainly the UK and US to halt research collaboration further could worsen the situation.

The opportunities for academic researchers in Russia have already been drastically damaged by the war and the sanctions. A Russian scientist working in St Petersburg recently tweeted,“I’m so disgusted with rejection letters, invitation cancellations, grant withdrawals against Russian scholars from Western academics who fight Putinism by attacking those who have suffered from it for decades.” Another Russian climate scientist based in a British Russell Group University, commented under anonymity expressing his objection to the invasion and exclaimed that,“The majority of academics in Russia are not fans of the current regime, and of course sanctions will strike right at them.” He also remarked his disappointment in the closure of academic discourse by saying, “Russia is such a huge territory and we will lose so much empirical data. This will be a really big blow for climate science.”

The situation is becoming dire for Russian academics, having been caught in the crossfire of international sanctions designed to cripple the economy of their own country over a conflict they may not agree with. The intentions from the UK and other Western countries are now looking to increase measures of countering Russian aggression in Ukraine with more economic blockades to cripple development in the region. As such, the position worsens as Putin’s ambitions take Russia further to the brink of financial collapse.

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Joseph Howard

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August 2022
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