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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Another Russian Missile Scientist Arrested For Treason, Warnings Of Sector's "Collapse"

A fourth physicist from the Novosibirsk Department of the Russian Academy of Sciences has been detained on treason charges. The scientists' research is linked to the development of hypersonic missiles, and an open letter now warns that Moscow's arrests of its top researchers will cause Russia to fall behind in the development of such weapons.

In an auditorium, members of the Russian Academy of Sciences raise papers to vote

A file photo of a general meeting of members of the Russian Academy of Sciences to elect a new president.

Laura Keffer

MOSCOW — A group of prominent Russian scientists have published an open letter to save Russian aerodynamic science "from the impending collapse." The appeal came after three of their scientists had been arrested on suspicion of treason, the latest being Valery Zvegintsev, a chief researcher at the Russian Academy of Sciences. His detention only became known this week.

The researchers from the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics of the Russian Academy of Sciences stated that: "Over the past year, three outstanding aerodynamic scientists of our institute — Anatoly Maslov, Alexander Shiplyuk, and Valery Zvegintsev — were arrested on suspicion of committing a crime under the most severe article of the Criminal Code: treason," reads the letter. "We know each of them as a patriotand a decent man, incapable of committing what the investigating authorities suspect them of doing."

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The authors emphasize that, according to open sources, the reason for the cases were presentations at international seminars and conferences, the publication of articles in high-ranking journals, and participation in international scientific projects. In addition, all the scientists' material has been checked for the presence of restricted information, and no such information was found. Nevertheless, the investigating authorities relied on another expert's opinion and did not disclose their names.

Two men stand outside the bronze facade of Russian Academy of Sciences

At the Russian Academy of Sciences headquarters in Moscow


Benefit of the Motherland

"The most frightening thing about this situation is the impact on the scientific youth," says the appeal. "Already the best students are refusing to work for us, and our best young employees are leaving science. Scientific organizations and their employees need a clear, law based understanding of where the boundary between working for the benefit of the Motherland and treason lies."

The motive for the treason allegation is an article about gas dynamics in an Iranian magazine.

A source from the media agency TASS reported that Valery Zvegintsev was detained about three weeks ago and is now under house arrest. The motive for the treason allegationegation appears to be the publication of an article about gas dynamics in an Iranian magazine. The agency's interlocutor specified that the material underwent two expert examinations for possible secrecy before publication. The investigating authorities have not commented on the alleged arrest of the scientist.

In the summer of 2022, the first three physicists from Novosibirsk were arrested on suspicion of treason: Shiplyuk, director of the Institute of Theoretical and Applied Mechanics, Maslov, chief researcher of the same institute, and Kolker, head of the laboratory of quantum optical technologies of Novosibirsk State University, researcher of the Institute of Laser Physics.

Their cases don't appear to be connected with each other. Kolker was diagnosed with stage four cancer and died on the third day after his arrest. Maslov, 76, is now in the Lefortovo detention center in Moscow. He is suspected of providing data considered state secrets. According to one version, the secret information is related to hypersonic technology.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Russia's Dependence On China Is Deep And Wide — It May Also Be Irreversible

Russia is digging itself into a hole as it becomes increasingly dependent on China, as a result of international sanctions and isolation. This shifting dynamic, analysts argue, is bound to have ripple effects around the world

Photo of ​China's Xi Jinping giving a speech while Russia's Vladimir Putin is sitting down, as they meet in Moscow on March 21

China's Xi Jinping and Russia's Vladimir Putin meeting in Moscow on March 21

Vazhnyye Istorii


Russian President Vladimir Putin has scored a "huge own goal" with the war in Ukraine, according to CIA Director William Burns.

He was referring to Russia's losses at the front, international sanctions, the expansion of NATO and Russia's growing dependence on China — something that has escalated in recent years and may well become one of the enduring challenges Putin's government has created for Russia.

The risks associated with this final point, the deepening dependence on China, are substantial — and breaking free from it will prove to be a formidable task.

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Russia's evolving relationship with China has become a focal point in international geopolitics and economics. This transformation has been catalyzed by a combination of factors, including Western sanctions, Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014, its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022 and China's meteoric rise in the global economy since the early 2000s.

The shift in Russia's economic alignment toward China began in earnest in the aftermath of the Ukraine conflict and the resulting Western sanctions. Prior to this, Russia had maintained strong trade ties with Europe, particularly in energy exports. But as sanctions took hold, Russia turned to China as an alternative trading partner and a source of investment.

These hopes for increased commerce between the two countries come as Moscow seeks continued support for its war on Ukraine. China's top diplomat Wang Yi is currently visiting Russia for security talks, which Russian media say could pave the way for Vladimir Putin visiting Beijing soon.

Yet despite attempts to gain diplomatic punch from such a visit, Putin would arrive in the Chinese capital weaker and more beholden to China than ever.

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