Scientific cooperation between the UK and Russia was boosted in August this year when Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev agreed to extend the UK-Russia Intergovernmental Agreement on Science and Technology cooperation for another 10 years. During the previous week, the Society’s President, Sir Venki Ramakrishnan, met with the Chairman of the Russian Foundation for Basic Research (RFBR – Russia’s main source of peer-reviewed funding), Vladislav Panchenko.
The Society signed an agreement which strengthens the Royal Society – Russian Foundation for Basic Research International Exchanges Awards programme, and it was also agreed that the two organisations would work together on an international roundtable on science advice. Two other major Royal Society activities are planned with Russia over the coming months, both with the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS), which will bring together leading palaeontologists in Moscow in October, and astronomers and physicists to discuss black holes and gravitation in the UK in February 2017.
These are uncertain times for Russian science, characterized by reforms to RAS and cuts to science spending. However, Russia remains one of the world’s most important scientific nations. Many of the world’s most important scientific discoveries and inventions originated in Russia, including the Periodic Table and human spaceflight, and it remains a centre of excellence in areas including mathematics, physics and space science. Regardless of the vagaries of geopolitics and their effect on UK-Russia relations in other areas, the relationship between scientists and science academies continues to flourish, and we look forward to continued close collaboration with Russian partners on a number of shared challenges in the future.