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Thursday, October 6, 2022
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Your Monday Briefing

Russian forces launched a heavy artillery barrage against the strategic southern Ukrainian port city of Mykolaiv early this morning, a day after Ukrainian troops pushed Russia’s faltering military from the city limits. Residents are facing increasingly dire conditions in another port city, Mariupol, which has been cut off from food, heat and electricity for days. Follow the latest updates here.

Russian forces have suffered from logistical problems, baffling tactical decisions and low morale, preventing them from quickly seizing Mykolaiv and other cities, as Vladimir Putin, the Russian president, appears to have intended. Their greatest obstacle, however, has been an unexpectedly capable defense from Ukrainian forces, despite their being significantly outgunned.

Frantic efforts to rescue civilians from the worsening violence in Ukraine came under direct attack by Russian forces yesterday as at least three people were killed in shelling outside the capital, Kyiv. The Ukrainian military said it was successfully defending its position in fierce fighting north of Kyiv and holding back Russians from the east.

Here are the latest maps of the Russian invasion.

Refugees: The U.N. said that 1.5 million people had fled Ukraine in the 10 days since Russia’s invasion began, making it the fastest growing refugee crisis in Europe since World War II. Some Ukrainian families are already feeling the pain of separation.

In other news from the war:

  • The police said more than 3,000 people were arrested at antiwar protests across Russia, the highest nationwide total in any single day of protest in recent memory. An activist group that tracks arrests, OVD-Info, reported detentions in 49 different Russian cities.

  • The Biden administration is studying how to supply Russian-made Polish fighter jets to Ukraine, U.S. officials say. Volodymyr Zelensky, the Ukrainian president, is asking for more lethal military aid, especially Russian-made aircraft that Ukrainian pilots know how to fly. Russia threatened countries that allow the Ukrainian military to use their airfields.

  • Zelensky repeated his calls for NATO to enforce a no-fly zone over his country to stop Russia’s aerial attack, saying, “It’s easy when you have the will.” NATO has been unwilling to take such a step, fearful of inciting a wider war with Russia.

  • Many Ukrainians are encountering a confounding and frustrating backlash from relatives in Russia who have bought into the official Kremlin messaging: that there is not a war in Ukraine.

Evusheld, a new treatment developed by AstraZeneca, can prevent Covid-19 in people who either cannot produce antibodies after being vaccinated or cannot be vaccinated at all. Administered in two consecutive injections, it appears to offer as much as six months of protection to immunocompromised people, giving it considerable appeal for those who have had to continue to stay home even as the U.S. reopens.

But there is so much confusion about the drug among health care providers that roughly 80 percent of the available doses in the U.S. are sitting unused — even as patients go to great lengths, often without success, to get them. In some cases, patients and doctors do not know that Evusheld exists or how to get it. Government guidelines on whom should receive the treatment are scant.

Hesitance is an issue, too. Some providers do not know how to use Evusheld and are thus loath to prescribe it. The fact that it is an antibody treatment can be confusing, because most such treatments are used after someone gets Covid rather than for preventive care. And in some medical centers, supplies are reserved only for patients at the highest risk, such as recent transplant recipients and cancer patients.

By the numbers: The Biden administration has purchased 1.7 million doses — enough to fully treat 850,000 people — and had nearly 650,000 doses ready for distribution as of this past week, according to federal health official. But only about 370,000 doses have been ordered by the states, and fewer than a quarter of those have been used.

Here are the latest updates and maps of the pandemic.

In other virus news:

German companies do more business in Russia than any other E.U. nation does, exporting goods worth over 26 billion euros ($28.4 billion) in 2021 and investing a further €25 billion in operations there. But since the invasion of Ukraine began on Feb. 24, some companies have opted to cut ties with Russia. Others are trying to stay on, despite the obstacles of sanctions and the collapse of the ruble.

Germany’s leading automakers — BMW, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz and Daimler Truck — announced last week that they were halting their exports and production in Russia. Family-owned firms, including ZF Group, a car parts maker, and Haniel, which manages several independent businesses in the Russia, are doing the same.

Beyond the impact to companies that had invested in Russia, analysts are predicting that the broader German economy will be hurt by increases in prices for energy and food as a result of the war. Since the invasion, politicians have been rallying the public to view their sacrifices through a wider lens. “We are prepared to carry the burden,” Germany’s ambassador to the U.S. said. “Freedom is priceless.”

Quotable: What remains for many businesses is a profound sense of sadness, coupled with disillusionment. “These are more than just business relationships, they are real friendships,” said Peter Fenkl, the chief executive of a German maker of industrial fans with close ties to Russia. “We have sat next to each other in meetings, had beers together.”

Written in 1938, W.H. Auden’s “Musée des Beaux Arts” is a short, wry poem about suffering that makes reference to “Landscape With the Fall of Icarus,” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. It is one of the better-known examples of ekphrasis, or poems inspired by artworks, up there with Keats’s “Ode on a Grecian Urn” and Rilke’s “Archaic Torso of Apollo.”

Step inside Auden’s poem and the painting that inspired it.

It’s a great time to be lactose intolerant. Grocery stores now carry milk made from soy, almonds, coconuts, oats and even potatoes, and the trend won’t slow down any time soon, Victoria Petersen writes in The Times.

Plant milks have existed for a long time. Coconut milk has been used for centuries in South Asia, South America and the Caribbean, and almond milk has been a staple ingredient in North Africa, Europe and the Middle East for nearly 1,000 years. But the growing popularity of vegetarian and vegan diets has turned such milks into a booming business: In 2020, plant-based milks accounted for 15 percent of all retail milk sales.

“Living in a metropolitan hub like London, I have no need to be drinking cow, goat or any other animal’s milk,” Sarah Bentley, who runs a plant-based-cooking school, said. Her favorites: hemp milk for its low environmental impact and, for her son, oat milk that is enriched with B and D vitamins.

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