On January 27th, Diplomacy's Dr. Margarita Balmaceda delivered a talk on her new book Russian Energy Chains. The presentation was held virtually and brought out nearly seventy people from the Diplomacy and broader Seton Hall communities, as well as from outside the university. It was co-sponsored by the Center for Faculty Development and the Slavic Club. David Brancaccio of NPR's Marketplace led the discussion. The timing of this talk and the publishing of Dr. Balmaceda's book couldn't be more timely in light of current events. With soldiers of the Russian Federation increasing along the Ukrainian border and fear that a Russian invasion is imminent, Dr. Balmaceda gave context to the moment and shared thoughts on the future.
Dr. Balmaceda is especially qualified to comment on these events as an expert on Eastern Europe, particularly Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, and she detailed her experience during the talk. The book she has written deals extensively with the technical details involved in the transportation of commodities, particularly natural gas and coal, through Ukraine and their impact on the economic and security situation in the region. The book also covers the extensive political and commercial interests that determine the actors who benefit from the transportation of these important commodities into Western Europe. Fluent in English, Spanish, Ukrainian, Russian, German, Belarussian, and Hungarian, Dr. Balmaceda took advantage of her extensive language capabilities to interpret written sources and communicate with individuals who possess subject matter knowledge in writing her book.
After discussing the book and the process of writing it, Dr. Balmaceda graciously answered questions for over forty minutes. Many of the queries concerned the current Ukraine crisis and it was here that she offered some of her sharpest comments. She emphasized the fluidity of the situation and the reality that no one can really assume what will happen in the coming days and weeks. Her insights removed many participants' illusions and assumptions about the crisis and left the audience with an even greater desire to learn about the topic. Many students will certainly take the knowledge they gained into the classroom this semester and it will greatly influence discourse.
Categories: Arts and Culture