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Statement from the Swedish Government – Call to suspend research collaboration with Russia and Belarus

On 2 March, Anna Ekström, Minister for Education, issued a statement that all research collaboration with Russia and Belarus should be suspended. Sven Stafström, Director General of the Swedish Research Council, emphasised the importance of differentiating between individual contacts between researchers and formalised collaboration between organisations and nations. The Swedish Research Council is now investigating the possibility to suspend all formalised collaborations.

“The Government urges that all contacts and collaboration with governmental institutions in Russia and Belarus are terminated immediately, and that no new contacts or undertakings are initiated,” said Anna Ekström, Minister for Education.

She underlined that it is important that individual Russian and Belarusian researchers are not automatically treated as equal to governmental institutions. For this reason, higher education institutions and governmental agencies must in each individual case make certain that any contacts and collaborations actually are suitable.

Sven Stafström, Director General of the Swedish Research Council, took part in the press briefing, and was very satisfied with the Minister’s statement.

“This helps us to act on an international level. Research is fundamentally international in character, and this applies to researchers, higher education institutions and research funding bodies. It is also important to under line that we shall differentiate between individual contacts between researchers and formalised collaboration between organisations and between nations,” said Sven Stafström.

Institutional research collaboration

The Swedish Research Council has a Memorandum of Understanding with the Russian Foundation for Basic Research, and is now reviewing the possibility to suspend this collaboration. The Swedish Research Council is also the Swedish funder of the RACIRI Summer School, a collaboration between Sweden, Germany and Russia via the Röntgen-Ångström Cluster and the Ioffe-Röntgen Institute. Discussions are ongoing with the German partner to allow only Swedish and German participation in this year’s summer school.

In addition to this, the Swedish Research Council has links to Russia via multilateral agreements relating to several research infrastructures and research collaborations, such as FAIR and X-FEL, and in relation to polar research. The Swedish Research Council is monitoring the development in these organisations closely, and will base our position in upcoming discussions with partners on today’s statement.

Individual research collaboration

Since 2015, the Swedish Research Council has received 33 applications – out of a total of around 40 000 – where a participating researcher is located in Russia. Three of these 33 applications were awarded funding. All three relate to undirected project grants. None of the projects has reported any transfer of funds to participating researchers in Russia, but we have as yet not received any financial reporting for 2021 from two of the projects.

Read more about the statement on the Government's website External link.

See a recording of the press conference on the Government's website (in Swedish) External link.

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