EUA suspends 12 Russian members who back Putin’s invasion

The European University Association (EUA) has suspended 12 Russian members following the statement issued by the Russian Union of Rectors (RUR) supporting the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as reported by University World News.

Following a request from University World News on 6 March for a response to the RUR statement, which backed Russian President Vladimir Putin’s justification for the invasion, the board of EUA agreed on 7 March to suspend the membership of 12 universities whose leaders had signed the RUR statement, “as it is diametrically opposed to the European values that they committed to when joining EUA”.

The statement, posted on the EUA’s website, said: “These 12 universities will remain suspended from EUA until such time as they are once again compliant with European values.”

It then lists the 12 suspended members as:

• Klemeshev Andrey Pavlovich, president of the Baltic Federal University named after Immanuel Kant.

• Prokofiev Stanislav Evgenievich, rector of the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation.

• Vasiliev Vladimir Nikolaevich, rector of the National Research University ITMO.

• Tayursky Dmitry Albertovich, rector of the Kazan (Volga Region) Federal University.

• Anatoly Torkunov, rector of the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (University) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation.

• Strongin Roman Grigorievich, vice-president of the RUR, president of the Nizhny Novgorod State University named after NI Lobachevsky.

• Anisimov Nikita Yuryevich, rector of the National Research University Higher School of Economics.

• Filippov Vladimir Mikhailovich, president of the Peoples’ Friendship University of Russia.

• Bezborodov Alexander Borisovich, rector of the Russian State University for the Humanities.

• Borovskaya Marina Alexandrovna, president of the Southern Federal University.

• Sednev Dmitry Andreevich, rector of the National Research Tomsk Polytechnic University.

• Galazhinsky Eduard Vladimirovich, rector of the National Research Tomsk State University.

The Russian Union of Rectors’ statement supported the Russian army and President Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a ‘special military operation’ in Ukraine to ‘achieve demilitarisation and denazification’ and underlined universities’ commitment to ‘instil patriotism in young people’.

However, despite suspending 12 Russian members the EUA is still taking a nuanced approach, encouraging continuing collaboration with Russian academics where they share European values, noting that many have openly voiced opposition to Russian military aggression in Ukraine, as reported by University World News.

This contrasts with the blanket approach taken by the European Commission, which on 4 March announced a suspension of all cooperation with Russian entities in research, including payments under existing contracts. Also, several European governments – Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands – have suspended all educational, research and innovation cooperation with institutions in Russia and Belarus.

The new EUA statement on 7 March says: “As set out in its recent statement on Ukraine, EUA condemns the aggression against Ukraine in the strongest possible terms. It advises member universities to ensure on a case-by-case basis that continuation of education and research collaborations with Russian academics remains appropriate at this time, using national and European-level policy guidance to assess this – recognising that many partnerships are based on peer-to-peer relationships and that many Russian academics have spoken out against this invasion, at great personal risk.”

Among the latter are more than 150 Russian scientists and science journalists, including around 85 scientists who are members of the Russian Academy of Sciences, who signed an open letter to which a further 7,000 additional signatories have since been added, voicing a “strong protest” against the “hostilities launched by the armed forces of our country on the territory of Ukraine”, as reported by University World News.

The letter’s signatories warned that the “unjustified” Russian military action in Ukraine would plunge Russia into isolation and scientists would no longer be able to do their jobs without full cooperation with colleagues from other countries.

Fears realised

Within days of the invasion of Ukraine, the Russian scientists’ fears of being “doomed to isolation” were already being realised. The majority of foreign universities, research institutions and scientific journals have been forced to revise their contacts and extent of cooperation with colleagues from Russia.

As a result, Russian universities and scientists have begun to face difficulties in cooperating with their foreign partners, and in some high-profile cases – such as between Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology – their cooperation agreements have been terminated.

All international university science conferences due to be held in Russia have been cancelled.

Russian scientists are also being denied publication of their papers in leading Western research journals that regularly published their work in the past.