Will scientific cooperation between Russia and the West survive the second cold war?

Scientific cooperation between the two blocks existed even during the Cold War confrontation. After 1989, scientific interdependence between Russia and the West deepened further. Will it survive the Ukraine war? If not, how will ‘decoupling’ be managed?

The scientific community worldwide started making an inventory of all projects and activities that will be endangered by the decoupling between Russia and the West. It includes:

  • Europe’s space agency Mars project (Russia provides a heating unit for Mars rover);
  • ITER fusion-energy project in southern France, which involves 35 nations, critically depends on Russian science and hardware;
  • CERN involves more than 1000 Russian scientists;
  • Critical research on climate change and the Arctic cannot be conducted without Russian support from scientists to critical research vessels.

The first developments in science diplomacy started happening. CERN suspended Russia’s observer status with the organisation, but stayed short of preventing Russian scientists to continue working at CERN.

The European Union is freezing the involvement of Russian scientists in EU-funded projects.

Russian Science Ministry dropped ranking work of Russian scientists based on peer-reviewed publishing in scientific journals mainly based in the West.

Both sides will have to find ways for future work, especially on scientific cooperation in critical areas such as climate change and Arctic research.