MIT withdraws from Russia’s high-tech campus

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced Friday that it has terminated a long-suspected high-tech research partnership with the Russian government.

The partnership was started in 2010 by an agreement between MIT and the Russian Skoltech Foundation, Skoltech. The $ 3 billion project to build the Russian Silicon Valley – or Kendall Square outside Moscow is the cornerstone of the new Skolkovo Innovation Center.

In response to questions from GBH News this week, MIT rejected the interview request but issued a statement stating:

On Friday night, MIT released a new statement announcing that it was terminating its relationship with Skoltech.

“In light of the unacceptable military action taken by the Russian government against Ukraine, MIT President El Rafael Reef has consulted with senior officials and decided that MIT should end its relationship with Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology (Skoltek),” the statement said. . “This is a reversal of the Russian government’s action in Ukraine.

Following the invasion, the United States imposed severe economic sanctions on Russia, including a technology embargo on exports.

A.D. In 2018, when Russian billionaire and Skolkov leader Viktor Vክkselberg was fired from the MIT board, relations between MIT and Skoltech are expected to end. Vexelsburg is one of the latest billionaires to be sanctioned by the United States and the European Union in cooperation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But the university In 2019, it signed a five-year extension of its lucrative partnership with the Russian Institute for Technology Research, which has long raised fears among foreign policy experts and the FBI. The extension comes three months after the federal government announced that MIT was reviewing the reporting requirements for the money it received in connection with the project.

A.D. In 2020, the GBH News Center’s investigative report uncovered a controversial relationship between MIT and Skolkovo.

MIT defends previous Russian criticism of its program as an opportunity to use Russian intellectual power and vice versa. In a 2020 GBH interview, MIT Rocket Scientist Edward Crawley, one of the creators of Schotech, said, “MIT has a global policy. We do not build MIT campuses around the world but we will help other universities build on the MIT line. This is a manifestation of MIT’s foreign policy – to create like-minded institutions around the world.

Critics say American universities should not help Putin create a high-tech institution.

Two years ago, GBH interviewed a Russian dissident who was hiding in Kiev, Ukraine. At the time, Ilya Ponomav said he was shocked by MIT’s decision to renew its partnership with the Skolkovo Foundation Schotech. Ponomarev – now a businessman – once led the global development and technology transfer to Skoltevo and worked closely with MIT.

Due to security concerns, Ponomarev was unsure of his future relationship and concluded that a multi-million dollar partnership could eliminate those fears. ”[The] The Russian government pays a lot, hundreds of millions of dollars.

Ponomarev fled to Ukraine after being publicly criticized for invading Crimea. He was the only member of the Duma to vote in favor of Russia’s annexation.

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