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Russian armored personnel carriers are stalled by the roadside for lack of fuel. Soldiers forage for food in grocery stores. Trucks are backed up from Kyiv like a Friday night traffic jam.

Images of Russia’s travails in the first week of its invasion of Ukraine have transfixed the world, raising questions over the assumed invincibility of President Vladimir Putin’s modernized military. Yet one cause of its stumbles is very simple: the humble railway junction.

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