Moscow, the Russian capital: The office of the Helmholtz Association in the city will probably not exist for much longer
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Ambassador, trailblazer and comforter rolled into one: the Moscow office of the Helmholtz Association (HGF) was to be all of this – a mediation center for Russian experts and research institutes who wanted to establish contacts in Germany and initiate joint projects.
"Here to stay" was the motto of the office's tenth anniversary in 2015.
But now it's apparently over.
"The office of the Helmholtz Association in Moscow scaled back its work considerably last year and is expected to close completely in the course of this year," a spokesman for the HGF told SPIEGEL.
This is the organization's reaction to the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine.
For almost a year, the HGF has frozen all scientific cooperation with state institutions and business enterprises in Russia.
Joint events have been cancelled, funding for Russian research has been cut.
New cooperation projects?
Shouldn't be there until further notice.
XXL systems of science affected
The withdrawal of the HGF from Russia also affects top-class research locations such as the X-ray laser European XFEL in Schenefeld near Hamburg or the particle accelerator FAIR in Darmstadt, which is still being built.
The huge facilities are designed to answer fundamental scientific questions.
In both projects, Germany and Russia are the largest shareholders.
But even there, the exchange with Russia is reduced to a minimum, and Russian financing of new projects is prevented.
Who should pay for the research instead?
Uncertain, one is in exchange with all partners involved, it said from the HGF.
In addition to the HGF, numerous other scientific institutions have also severed their ties to Russia.
The major research center CERN, for example, has suspended the publication of new studies in specialist journals.
(Read more about it here .)
"Even if science often acts as a diplomatic bridge, we still believe that this step was absolutely right," said the HGF.
Russia's attack on Ukraine is a blatant violation of general international law and our cooperation.
According to its own statements, the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers is the largest German organization for the promotion and financing of research.
With a budget of 5.8 billion euros and almost 44,000 employees, it is also one of the largest scientific research institutions in the world.
In addition to Moscow, the HGF has foreign offices in Brussels, Beijing and Tel Aviv.