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Todd Whitcombe: Tragedy grows in Ukraine

We are a race which has engaged in some form of warfare for all of recorded history and probably since we first established tribes. Somewhere people are always fighting.
Ukraine protest drummers
The UHNBC Traditional Drummers and their friends and families pose for a group shot in front of Prince George city hall during a protest of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Many years ago, Nick Lowe wrote a song called “What’s So Funny Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding” that was made famous by Elvis Costello and the Attractions.

It is a simple question in a world which seems to find new ways to wage war with each passing year. Universal peace and understanding are things everyone wishes for on their birthday candles or a falling star. Love for our fellow human beings is at the core of every major religion.

Yet despite the desire, we are a race which has engaged in some form of warfare for all of recorded history and probably since we first established tribes. Somewhere people are always fighting.

Sometimes it is for self-determination and freedom. Other times it is for oppression or the theft of commodities. And sometimes if there is a reason, it makes no sense at all.

The war in Ukraine would appear to fall into the latter category. President Putin and Russian media would have us believe this is a war of liberation ridding the Ukrainian people of thugs and villains who are destroying the country and oppressing the people. Putin has his army in Ukraine to free the people from the Nazi regime.

Except there is no evidence for any of the claims made by the Russians. No death camps. No ongoing genocide. No evidence the government is corrupt or torturing and killing its own people.

Not surprisingly, the democracies of the world have come to the aid of Ukraine, sort of. NATO is not going to commit ground or air forces to Ukraine as that would radically expand the conflict. But the world has ostracized Russia through sanctions and economic actions.

As I write this, the news says the Russian forces are pulling back from Kyiv and consolidating in Donetsk and Luhansk, Russian recognized republics. But as they withdraw, the death and destruction they have done is becoming apparent.

So how does this all end? Does Russia carve off another piece of a sovereign country? Do Ukrainian forces expel the invaders completely? Does it become a war of attrition? And perhaps one of the more interesting questions is how long does the world keep punishing the Russian economy?

Peace, love, and understanding – is that too much to ask for?

Todd Whitcombe is a chemistry professor at UNBC.

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