The European Union (EU) and the countries in the Eastern Partnership (EaP) framework have developed ambitious and comprehensive programmes for scientific cooperation that provide a major source of funding for science institutes and crucial support for science policies in the region. However, science policies and scientific cooperation areembedded in broader political and governance institutional structures. This paper exploresthe idea that in limited access orders(LAOs), institutions and powerful actors can constrain the design and implementation of scientific cooperation projects in a way that limits their broader transformative potential and societal effects. Empirically, the paper is focused on three EaP countries –Belarus, Moldova, and Ukraine –that differ in the forms and intensity of their scientific cooperation with the EU, but also in the types of regimes they have.The paper developstheoretically the possible and likely effects of LAOs on science policies and scientific cooperationandseeksevidence for such effects using sets of interviews with policy experts and scientists. Our empirical analysis shows that the results of scientific cooperation projects rarely spillover to broader society. It is unclear, however, to what extent this is a result of the generally limited capacity of EaP governments for strategic policy making and policy implementation, and to what extent it stems from features characteristic of LAOs. Overall, we find that,in line with our theoretical reasoning, the less open the regime, the more stringent the constraints on science and scientific cooperation it imposes.