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Todd Whitcombe: Putin’s stories don’t match reality

We always tell ourselves stories but sometimes those stories are works of fiction and fantasy not based in fact at all.

Recently, I was reminded humans are story tellers. Indeed, the telling of stories is one of the key steps in our evolution and a defining characteristic of our humanity.

We tell ourselves stories all of our life. Some are stories about the good things we have done, like helping your sister with her homework or taking care of a friend. Some are just stories about how to do things, such as the math involved in your sister’s homework. And some are stories we would rather forget.

Stories matter. And collectively, some of our stories weave our history.

There have been several news stories of late which proclaim we are watching history being made with the events in Ukraine. In point of fact, we are watching history being made every moment of everyday – whether it's your child’s first word or a friend going through a traumatic break-up. But those histories are ones only a few people will ever know.

What is happening in Ukraine is a much bigger story and one that we will be studying for years to come, no matter what the outcome. Indeed, if NATO forces go forward with imposing a no-fly zone over Ukraine, it might be a story that will be years in the telling as that would escalate the conflict to the point where a peaceful resolution may not be possible.

In any case, the Ukrainians have their story of events and the Russian have theirs. Of the two, the more credible is the story we are hearing from the Ukrainians. The Russian pre-text for invasion is based on the premise genocide was occurring among the Russian speaking population in east Ukraine.

It is a clever story but one that lacks any sort of evidence. If there was evidence of mass murders simply for the crime of speaking Russian on Ukrainian soil then where is it? Why didn’t the Russian government bring the evidence forward? Present proof to the world and maybe the outcome is different.

But that is the problem with stories. Yes, we always tell ourselves stories. However, sometimes those stories are works of fiction and fantasy not based in fact at all. The story of the war in Ukraine, on the other hand, is definitely real. 

Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at UNBC.

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