MOSCOW, April 11 (RIA Novosti) – The Russian Ministry of Education will appeal to its US colleagues for clarification about a reported working ban on Russian physicists at US national labs, the ministry told RIA Novosti on Friday.
“We are surprised by this initiative, the Ministry of Education and Science has not yet received any official information. Soon we will send an inquiry letter to ask for an explanation,” a spokesperson for the ministry said.
The Russian Kommersant newspaper reported Friday that the US Department of Energy had banned its scientists from traveling to Russia and blocked access for Russian scientists to its major physics research centers, citing a letter sent earlier this week to scientists collaborating with Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York.
“International scientific cooperation is always mutually beneficial, and both unilateral sanctions and the suspension of cooperation would have a negative impact on research groups in the United States,” the ministry added.
The spokesperson added that if confirmed, the bans could jeopardize joint Russia-US scientific projects already approved by the US National Science Foundation.
Commenting on the ban, Valery Chereshnev, the chairman of the committee on science and technology in Russia’s lower house, called US sanctions against Russian physicists “meaningless.”
“This is an absolutely inadequate response,” Chereshnev told RIA Novosti. He added that although while there will be an impact on scientists, “nothing would drastically change” as research centers now operate in other countries around the world.
In regard to a possible Russian response, Chereshnev believes that it is not necessary to impose sanctions against US scientists. He stated that “this is a purely political decision” as science is based on openness, not restrictions.