past while pursuing emerging bioengagement opportunities that can continue to benefit both countries.
Looking to the future, the Russian government is in the process of terminating Russia’s involvement in the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program administered by the U.S. Department of Defense (often referred to as the Nunn-Lugar Program), the foreign assistance efforts of the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the activities of the International Science and Technology Center. These three programs have provided important pillars of U.S.-Russian bioengagement efforts for many years. But during the past several years the U.S. government has significantly reduced financial support for bioengagement through these and other channels in favor of competing budget priorities.
Despite the foregoing developments, the committee responsible for this report considers that the case is strong for expanding U.S.-Russian bioengagement, even in the face of budget stringency by both governments. The stakes are significant, the established base for collaboration is unprecedented, and many of the potential payoffs from future joint efforts are clear. The broad-ranging assessment in this report of lessons learned and of future collaboration opportunities should help ensure that the governments and the scientific leaders in both countries now give adequate attention to the many dimensions of and rewards from U.S.-Russian bioengagement.
BIOENGAGEMENT IN THE LATE 1990s AND EARLY 2000s
Following the splintering of the Soviet Union into 15 independent states, officials in Washington, Brussels, and other western capitals, in cooperation with Russian government counterparts, launched a number of bilateral and multilateral programs to help limit internal and external brain drains of Russian scientists whose salaries were no longer adequate for meeting even minimal needs. A particular concern was the possibility that Russian scientists with important nuclear, biological, chemical, or aerospace skills who were facing difficult economic problems might accept financial support from nefarious sources interested in using Russian expertise for dangerous purposes. At the same time, scientists in the West, as well as their colleagues in Russia, were apprehensive that without an infusion of financial resources from abroad, civilian-oriented capabilities of Russia’s scientific institutions that were of international significance would decline and eventually be lost.
In a few years, bioengagement reached unprecedented heights. The U.S. government provided substantial financing. Russian institutions that were interested in bioengagement provided important matching resources along with their extensive knowledge base. Since the mid-1990s, U.S. and Russian organizations have invested more than $1 billion in bioengagement, with the U.S. side covering most of the direct costs. The Russian side has covered many of the indirect expenses, such as costs of utilities, facility improvements, program management