“Ukraine Has Not Been Invaded!”

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You are probably not surprised to hear this:

Millions believe that Ukraine is NOT being invaded. Liberated, maybe.

Some will assume I’m talking about only the Russian people. We know that the mass of Russians believe that there is only a “special operation” going on in Ukraine now…against the Nazis.

What you may be surprised to know is that

MILLIONS OF AMERICANS also believe that Ukraine has NOT REALLY been invaded.

Something has happened, they say. Perhaps a little incursion.

But they hold strong suspicions that our news channels have grossly exaggerated. Some wonder if the last two weeks have been grand theater staged by Ukraine itself. By Europe. Or possibly by the global elite.

Where do we seek the truth?

Eight days before the event, at a Wednesday press conference, the Russian Ambassador to the UN declared, “European wars do not often start on a Wednesday.” No, we are not invading Ukraine!

He was correct, we learned, but only in a snarky way. The invasion started eight days later. On a Thursday.

Very sneaky of him the way he did that. Not very honest.

As much as we wanted to believe in the reporting of MSNBC or FOX, their stories were surely tailored to titillate their left- and right-leaning audiences. The basic news from both is largely true, but the highly political stuff feels far less reliable.

The tweets from what appeared to be Ukranian supporters and journalists seemed possibly reliable.

Screenshot taken by author of Twitter post from @Ukrainianfree66.

But the veracity of many of those tweets and telegrams were challenged.

The American nationalist Twittersphere began sharing stories pointing out real and possible errors of fact, particularly photos taken from other conflicts and some published weeks before.

Screenshot taken by author of Twitter post from @leslibless.

Others made what seemed a reasonable request: “Where’s the video of the invasion?”

They were thinking that if folks can generate videos of spontaneous school shootings across America, certainly we should have 4K video of a slow-moving line of tanks traversing across Ukraine. From multiple angles. With explosions from RPG’s. Right?

Screenshot taken by author of Twitter post from @ThorDeplorable and @JDMajor1976.

The 100% Truth

From a brutally honest, scientific perspective, I DO NOT 100% KNOW that Russia has invaded Ukraine with the intent of wiping out the Ukrainian army, destroying major cities, killing Ukrainian President Zellensky, and installing a government beholden to Vladimir Putin and Russia.

I do not live in Ukraine.

I am not privy to American intelligence or Russian planning.

What does Russia know?

This evening (around midnight in Russia), RT.com —one of Russia’s official news sites — posted an article proposing evacuation corridors for those who want to travel to the east towards Russia and those who want to travel west towards EU territories.

Author’s screenshot of rt.com on 3/7/2022 at 7:30pm EST.

The article (which has no byline, no official author) explains that Ukraine had rejected previous evacuation proposals because they led only towards Belarus and Russia. Ukraine insisted that its citizens be allowed to travel west towards EU countries if they want.

That seems fair.

It also seems like an admission from Russian authorities that something big is happening in Ukraine. The article’s subtitle mentions two million people (out of 41.5 million citizens two weeks ago) who have asked Russia for help in departing for Russia…tomorrow, it seems.

The article notes that the safe passage corridor and ceasefire will be available for only five hours, 5 to 12 GMT on Tuesday, March 7.

People better drive fast because Ukraine is a big country, almost the size of Texas!

Some friends know a lot

My wife and I shared a dinner with friends who had grown up in Kharkiv, Ukraine. It was Saturday night, 11 days after the recent incursion began.

Their families had migrated to the US in 1989, the year the Berlin Wall fell, two years before the Soviet Union was dissolved. There had been an exodus of Ukrainian jews in the 1970’s, but the window had soon closed.

When the window opened again during the period of glasnost (openness) in the late eighties, their parents took the leap. He was eleven or twelve at the time. She was nine.

Though they grew up in the same town, their families had never met.

It took traveling across Europe, waiting months for their paperwork to be processed, flying across the Atlantic ocean, and then settling on the west coast of the US, before they came to know one another.

Our friends had been speaking with their parents and Ukranian relatives almost daily since the US warned of a looming invasion.

The had all said Russia would never invade Ukraine. Why? Every family member spoke Russian. Virtually every neighbor spoke Russian.

President Zelensky was pretty much Russian, too. He had to learn Ukranian later in life. And none of them thought his Ukranian accent was even very good.

Why would Russia attack fellow Russians?

Relatives still living in Kharkiv described a town center crumbling to rubble, state buildings smoldering, and communication towers struck by artillery shells.

Old friends had retreated to the subway systems. Soviet era builders, not trusting people, had constructed the train stations to double as bomb shelters deep in the ground, reinforced by steel and thick concrete.

One family friend had refused to leave her apartment, insisting that civilian structures would be safe. Her cat didn’t much like leaving the apartment, either.

Days later they learned that shells had struck apartment buildings.

Who would bomb civilians’ homes?

Our friends seemed shocked to say that shells had struck the zoo, too. It was becoming impossible for the people of Kharkiv to care for the animals.

Why would anyone bomb a zoo?

As the shelling continued and the city became unfamiliar, many of their friends chose to flee Ukraine towards the west. One group was picked up at the Polish border by a friend who had driven all the way from Germany.

The symbolism of a German driving madly through Poland to pick up a Ukrainian family — all while Europe twists on the brink of war — was not lost on the group.

What do I know now?

I think, sadly, I know a lot now.

I know that the family of friends in Ukraine have seen their city shelled, friends killed, and their neighbors fleeing.

I know that a friend’s parents in Germany now have two sets of Ukranian mothers and children in their home. Their husbands have stayed in Ukraine to fight.

I know that another friend, a thoughtful musician from Romania who grew up under the era of Soviet control, said to my wife that he expects Putin to play with the west before nuking a Ukrainian city…just to teach us that if America can use nuclear weapons, he can too.

What do we know now?

We know that Ukraine will take decades to recover, no matter the exact truth or outcome of this war.

We know that we are witnessing the creation of another generation of peoples who hate one another passionately.

We know that we are on the precipice of another very big war. Tipping to one side, then swaying back.

And we know the best way to learn the truth…the truths that people believe…is to talk to one another: friends, allies, and enemies.

To talk.

To listen.

Oh, and we also know that an old Ukranian woman, hiding in her apartment…the one who was so good to a little boy who left for America thirty-three years ago…

We know that she is dead, too.

And her cat.

My hopes and prayers go out to the people of Ukraine. And also to the people of Russia, Europe, China, Asia, Africa, America, and all the countries of the world.

We can do better when we search for truth together.

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Be well

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A better world is a lifetime project. One person, one team, one organization, one company, one state at a time. Book: American Butterfly on Amazon.

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J. Andrew Shelley

J. Andrew Shelley

A better world is a lifetime project. One person, one team, one organization, one company, one state at a time. Book: American Butterfly on Amazon.

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