‘Kyiv’s wartime supply chain is remarkable’

A checkpoint in Kyiv. If there was any doubt, the banner reads “Russian warship go fuck yourself!”

Journalists in Kyiv continue to be amazed At how the city has been able to bring in food and medical supplies despite Russian forces that have been attempting to encircle the Ukrainian capital for twenty days. Shelves in Ukraine are better stocked than even some areas not under conflict — and much better than the empty shelves in parts of Russia.

On Tuesday, the strength of those supply lines was demonstrated by a diplomatic train that left Poland and then arrived safely in Kyiv, delivering the prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic to a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. While President Zelenskyy has been clear that he no longer expects Ukraine to become a member of NATO, it is still seeking to become a member of the European Union. Ukraine’s application for membership was given rapid acceptance last week, and the process of moving the nation toward full membership is proceeding on an express track. However, leaders of other EU nations have made it clear that the visit from the three prime ministers does not represent an official mission representing the EU.

Even so, it’s expected that the visiting prime ministers are bringing with them a package of financial proposals designed to help Ukraine rebuild the areas destroyed by Russia. As, no matter how the war turns out, it’s unlikely Russia will ever provide adequate reparations. Also under discussion is what steps can take to help guarantee Ukraine’s continued independence. What form those guarantees might take isn’t exactly clear. The EU doesn’t currently have any sort of army, and despite some members pulling for the creation of a combined force, it’s unclear that will happen, even in the wake of this war. Another alternative might be for the individual nations within the EU to treat their relationship with Ukraine as providing some sort of guarantee of mutual protection, along the same lines as NATO. But any promise to protect Ukraine by a nation that’s also a member of NATO could bring a large number of potential complications so …

In any case, Zelenskyy and the three prime ministers are expected to hold a joint press conference in the next few hours, during which the public is likely to learn more details of the proposals.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden is expected to travel to Europe next week as NATO leaders hold a special session. There are expectations that while in Europe, President Biden will visit Poland and speak with Ukrainian refugees, as Vice President Kamala Harris did last week. It’s not that Biden will travel into Ukraine itself, but the clear visit from the prime ministers and the special session of NATO show the level of unity and cooperation that has been generated since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb 24.

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2022 · 6:58:16 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

What’s the opposite of the whole world coming together? Something like this.

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Tuesday, Mar 15, 2022 · 7:00:17 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

A look a the visiting PMs (and the deputy prime minister of Poland) on the train heading to their meeting with Zelenskyy.

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Tuesday, Mar 15, 2022 · 7:04:21 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

The T-72 continues to be the least desirable ride in Ukraine. The older series of tanks, which first went into production in 1969, has been updated several times and continues to make up the largest slice of Russia’s mechanized force. Oryx has now documented at least 119 T-72 tanks that have been destroyed or captured.

Tuesday, Mar 15, 2022 · 7:12:22 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

While just the word “caviar” may summon up images of a Tsar in some gold-encrusted room—or Russian mobsters doing their best to flaunt stolen wealth—the truth is that Russia is an importer of caviar.

Caviar comes from sturgeons, which can be very sensitive to water conditions and Russia produces just a fraction of what it consumes. Most caviar actually comes from farm-raised fish in Germany, the United States, and—this is kind of a weird one, when it comes to farms for very large fish—Israel. Much US caviar is actually not from sturgeons, but from my favorite fish, Polydon spathulathe Paddlefish.

In any case, Russia is about to discover what all that dry toast tastes like without salty, squishy eggs.

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