The Blast interviewed Igor Novikov, former advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, to hear his unique perspective on the current crisis in Ukraine. Novikov, who has a degree in law from the London School of Economics and Political Science, brings a unique set of technological, entrepreneurial, and policy perspectives to the dialogue of innovation in Eastern Europe.
In the first of many articles detailing the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Novikov described the food situation where he is stationed in Kyiv, including one magical find in a supermarket.
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Igor Novikov Juxtaposes The Food Shortages Between Russia & Ukraine
When asked about the food situation in Ukraine, Novikov explained that he stocked up on both coffee and ammo for his rifle. Although Russian military forces have yet to invade his current area, he knows that if the fighting is worse, he is going to have to send his family to safety and stay and fight to defend his homeland.
“The best observation I can share… the most uplifting one… you know how Putin keeps saying that Russians and Ukrainians are one people?” he asked. “Well, Russia’s going through some tough times at the moment due to the sanctions and everything. From what we’re observing, they are queuing up at the ATMs, they are queuing up for toilet paper, and buckwheat.”
“The only things Ukrainians were queuing up for, you know, before this whole thing started, was ammo,” he said. “And, you know, that kind of tells the story.”
Igor Novikov Wakes Up Every Morning Like Most People… With A Coffee
“I have coffee. I start every morning with a coffee,” he said. “When I wake up depends on the explosions. So if there’s a major powerful one nearby, obviously, it wakes you up.” Instead of trying to go back to sleep, Novikov said, “So I just go downstairs, grab a coffee.”
“For supplies, it was difficult the first couple of days,” he continued. “The first two, three days, obviously, the logistics were just, you know, destroyed for retail. Basic necessities like bread, milk, whatever… whatever was in stock was obviously swiped off the shelves and you know there are no deliveries. So, for a couple of days, it seemed desperate.”
“At the moment, there’s an abundance of bread, there’s an abundance of milk, at least in Kyiv,” he explained. He also added that there are “really peculiar things” like “in one of the supermarkets, I found a pineapple.”
Igor Novikov’s Pineapple Story Serves As A Reminder To Appreciate The Little Things In Life
“Right?” he asks with a laugh as he mimics holding up the pineapple. “One lone pineapple there remaining. And I bought that pineapple, and look, to give you a sense of what it’s like, um, before politics, I was an interpreter so I had a couple of successful business ventures. You know, I drive a Mercedes, I’ve flown first class and everything, so I’ve been around the block a few times, and never in a million years, did I think that I would be amazed or blown away by the sight of a pineapple on a shelf.”
“There I was, just holding that pineapple, like literally, cheering, and then I brought it home to my kids, who wouldn’t eat, like, you know, expensive chocolate if I had to force them, and they screamed and laughed at the sight of the pineapple,” he recalled. “We ate that pineapple and we actually put in a glass so we’re growing another pineapple from it.”
The Concept Of Abundance Versus Scarcity Can Make Life ‘More Colorful’
“So, look, the best way to describe it that crosses over from my past experience – because I run a think tank at Singularity University in Ukraine that looks into how technology actually effects people, business, society – and one of the things I was talking about was the concept of abundance versus scarcity and I think what happened with us is that we made that transition to the world of abundance to extreme scarcity really quickly and extreme scarcity actually has some positive sides to it as well. It makes you appreciate things you didn’t notice before.”
“Food tastes better because you never know where you’re next meal is coming from,” he added. “Coffee feels different because you never know when you’re going to run out of it. You stock up on water and you actually feel that sense of accomplishment.”
“Life has become more colorful,” he added. “I think it’s a lot to do with the adrenaline because your life is at risk 24/7, so you never know when the next bomb is landing.”