In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, on June 11, 2022, the President announced that the U.S. government will be limiting its "bilateral science and technology research cooperation with the Russian government." Specifically, the President explains that the United States will wind down science and technology funding for, and relationships and collaboration with, "Russian government-affiliated research institutions and individuals who continue to be employed by or work under the direction of those institutions." This includes Russian government-affiliated universities, research institutions, and individuals and institutions that have publicly supported the invasion. The briefing from the White House provides the overall plan and suggested procedures to limit these programs based on the type of organization and the source of funding. In particular, the White House's announcement states that:
- U.S.-funded programs and projects that began prior to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 will be permitted to conclude; however, the United States will not fund or initiate new programs;
- U.S. government-affiliated organizations, such as Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDCs) and other, similar institutions supported by grants, contracts, or cooperative agreements that are working with the Russian Federation are instructed to contact their supporting agencies for guidance; and
- Nonprofits and other non-government institutions affected by this announcement are instructed to make their own determinations on contact and collaboration, with a focus on the furtherance of open exchange of ideas within the international community.
While acknowledging the importance and sustainment of international scientific collaboration, and denouncing xenophobia against Russian scientists who have opposed the invasion, the United States intends to pursue these limits until Russia ends its war with Ukraine.
Despite the White House's proclamations, there is little in terms of details as to how these programs and entanglements will be implemented and whether the cessation of such programs is truly in the best interest of taxpayer funds and the pursuit of science. Nevertheless, nonprofits and other recipients of federal funds that may work in collaboration and/or partnerships with Russian-affiliated entities or institutions should reach out to their agreement officer to better understand the specific impact of this policy as it relates to their program, including, but not necessarily limited to, how and when operations should be altered; whether such entities/institutions can be replaced; how intellectual property, data, or other information needed from Russian-affiliated entities might be obtained (if at all) and, if it cannot be obtained, how its absence may impact a program; and how increased efforts and expenses resulting from this shift in U.S. foreign policy will be paid for. In addition, recipients subject to a termination of a program may want to begin reviewing subcontracts to determine what relief their subcontract may include to mitigate costs, such as applicable force majeure or compliance with law clauses, and begin collecting and retaining information to support a termination proposal.
Certainly, the events in Ukraine have been tragic, but the Russian invasion is also significantly impacting organizations' dealings throughout the region and with the involved countries. In addition to these changes to the scientific and technological community, organizations operating in Russia and Belarus must also be mindful of the various federal and state restrictions recently imposed in the form of restricted party sanctions, heightened export controls, prohibitions against dealing with certain financial institutions, and requirements to certify compliance. We will continue to monitor these issues, to provide our clients with practical guidance as these policies and restrictions evolve.