Firefighters inspect the damage at a building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, on Friday, February 25, 2022.
Firefighters inspect the damage at a building following a rocket attack on the city of Kyiv, Ukraine Image Credit: AP

As Russian missiles pounded Kyiv and its army pressed closer to the Ukrainian capital, the world prepares to deal with another human tragedy with thousands of people fleeing their hometowns.

Apart from the expected tragic loss of life, the first major conflict in the heart of Europe since World War II will definitely lead to the influx of hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians into neighbouring countries — in one of the coldest winters on record.

In this age, it is futile to attempt redrawing the maps through force; nevertheless, the expected human toll is more than enough reason to reconsider the decision to attack a neighbouring country. It is not too late to stop the hostilities and work out the channels of diplomacy.

Russia has listed several reasons for its surprising attack, including alleged ‘atrocities’ in the breakaway region of Donbas, fighting ‘anti- Russia Nazism’ in Ukraine, and pre-empting a potential threat to Russia’s national security by a possible further Nato expansion (by admitting Ukraine in the Western military alliance).

The United States- led alliance may have shut the door on Russia’s legitimate demands of security guarantees and thus provoked a firm, albeit unexpected, response — ‘a special operation’ — that seems to have developed in the past 24 hours into an all-out war in which the Russian army seems determined to take over Kyiv.

However, none of those reasons, legitimate or otherwise, would justify the human tragedy that awaits millions of people in the region. More than 120,000 people have already fled their homes in Kyiv to escape the missiles that continued to rain on the Ukrainian capital. There is no exact number of the war casualties so far but medical sources confirmed ‘dozens’ have been killed in the past 24 hours.

The Russian army is unlikely to face any serious resistance in its advance. The US, the UK and Nato have made it clear that their response to the offensive is more of a political and economic nature- mostly sanctions. Feeling let down by the West, the Ukrainian president called on his citizens to carry weapons and ‘home-made Molotovs’ to stop the advancing Russian troops. That will of course lead to casualties.

At this point of global bewilderment, Moscow has clearly made its point. The US and its allies have got the message loud and clear. Now, it is time to reverse course and give diplomacy the upper hand for the sake of the millions of innocents caught in the crossfire of this great game of nations.