Old value chains, new realities: coal and politics in post-2014 Ukraine

Already from Czarist times the Donbas area in Eastern Ukraine was well-known for the easy availability of all the key raw materials needed for metallurgical production – iron ore, steam coal, and coking coal, creating the supply chains that would make the region into a powerhouse mining and metallurgical center. Central in the Soviet mythology of coal mining workers, the region’s coal resources also became a point of pride among (anti-Soviet) Ukrainian émigré communities, seen as a resource the country could rely on in a post-independence period. Once independence arrived in 1991, however, coal-related interests became central to the emergence of Ukraine’s most powerful oligarchs and of a particularly corrupt political regime – the regime many hoped would end with the Revolution of Dignity in 2014. With 2014 coinciding with Russian-supported and -led secession of key parts of the Donbas, this lecture analyzes the impact of this break in longstanding supply chains on Ukraine’s political future.

Margarita M. Balmaceda is Professor of Diplomacy and International Relations at Seton Hall University and Research Associate at the Harvard Ukrainian Research Institute, USA. After studies at Johns Hopkins and Princeton and post-doctoral training at Harvard, her research has focused on the energy politics of energy-poor states. Her books on the issue, based on extensive research in Ukraine as well as in Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, Moldova and Hungary, include: Energy Dependency, Politics and Corruption in the Former Soviet Union (Routledge, 2008), The Politics of Energy Dependency: Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania Between Domestic Oligarchs and Russian Pressure (Toronto 2013), and Living the High Life in Minsk: Russian Energy Rents, Domestic Populism and Belarus’ Impending Crisis (CEU Press, 2014). She was Senior Fellow at the Alfried Krupp Wissenschaftskolleg in the academic year 2011/12 and then returned to the Kolleg with a Humboldt research grant from June to August 2018.

Moderation:  Dr. Christian Suhm

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