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Crimea annexation

Cooperation at risk

Russian Mikhail Tyurin (left), Japanese Koichi Wakata and American Rick Mastracchio, astronauts on the International Space Station

NASARussian Mikhail Tyurin (left), Japanese Koichi Wakata and American Rick Mastracchio, astronauts on the International Space StationNASA

The annexation of the Crimean Peninsula by Russia has roiled that country’s scientific relations with partners in Europe and the United States. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) suspended all collaboration with Russia, including the Science for Peace and Security Program, which supports the development of technologies to prevent terrorist attacks. The US government has now suspended contact between NASA and the Russian space agency, including visits, meetings and even email exchanges. The sole exception are the activities of the International Space Station, currently staffed by two American, three Russian and one Japanese crew member, because the United States depends on Soyuz spacecraft to transport its astronauts. “If Russia takes one more inch of Ukrainian territory, it will inevitably bring on further cuts in scientific exchange programs,” said Harley Balzer, a US-Russia relations expert at Georgetown University in Washington, in comments to the journal Nature. One probable target, Balzer said, would be the partnership between the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, a university in suburban Moscow that will bring together 15 research centers of excellence. According to estimates, MIT will receive $300 million from the Russian government to organize the curriculum and research programs and provide administrative support to the institution.

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