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Russia-Ukraine conflict: Europe’s leaders must stop the war out of mercy for their people

People walk past destroyed buildings in Kharkiv. Feb 24. marks the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war (File/AFP)
People walk past destroyed buildings in Kharkiv. Feb 24. marks the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war (File/AFP)
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24 Feb 2023 05:02:11 GMT9
24 Feb 2023 05:02:11 GMT9

The Russian-Ukrainian war took an abrupt turn this week. In his address to the Russian Federal Assembly on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin accused the West of using Ukraine to aim at Russia “to transform the local conflict into a global confrontation.” This coincided with the surprise visit paid by US President Joe Biden to Ukraine, before he held talks with the Polish President Andrzej Duda in Warsaw. In response to Putin’s remarks, Biden stood firm on pledging more support to Ukraine.

In the meantime, the pro-Ukraine European countries maintain an intransigent and uncompromising official position, increasing supplies of equipment and cutting-edge military weapons to Ukraine, in addition to the US’ political, moral and logistical support.

One year into the war, Western countries should deal with the crisis from a logical and realistic perspective. They should work toward peace rather than fueling the flames of war, whose ripple effects are spreading far beyond the battlefield to European countries and communities, threatening the safety and security of their citizens.

A report published last week by the Cologne Institute for Economic Research in Germany concluded that the losses incurred by the German economy due to the Ukrainian war would amount to €600 billion ($636 billion) by the end of 2023. The losses per capita are expected to reach €2,000, according to the latest data on Germany’s gross domestic product, in addition to a 40 percent increase in energy prices. If the strongest economy in Europe is sustaining such a high cost because of the war, what will become of the populations of the other European countries?

Therefore, I call on the leaders and heads of the EU states and the UK to reverse course because, if they keep pursuing the same path, it will entail serious risks and devastating consequences for the people and economies of their countries. Do not help fuel a war driven by foreign agendas with costly repercussions for the Ukrainians, and for your peoples and states.

In hindsight, it would have been possible to anticipate matters and implement an international mechanism to find a solution to the Russian-Ukrainian crisis with the least possible damage, sparing the innocent Ukrainian people the state of misery and homelessness they are now suffering. This could be achieved by responding to the concerns of the warring parties and avoiding provocative actions, such as the plan to enlarge NATO by accepting Sweden and Finland as members.

There are no winners in war and the biggest losers are those who engage in conflicts instead of working to put out their flames

Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor

It goes without saying that these provocative actions will stir up the anger of the Russian bear, which will spare no effort and use all available means, including strategic and conventional nuclear weapons, to defend what it considers its right to security and sovereignty. Things, as they seem, do not bode well. And if the escalation continues, it will lead to an all-out global nuclear war.

Therefore, I call on the leaders and heads of the EU states and the UK to learn lessons from the negative repercussions of the war on their countries and the world in general. The number of Ukrainians fleeing the war has exceeded 8 million. Europeans are living in panic, with an alarming rise in unemployment rates and skyrocketing prices of basic needs such as fuel, electricity and food.

The European peoples are fortunate because the winter season in Europe has not been as cold as usual. Thus, their needs for heating have diminished, enabling them to spend less money on energy sources whose prices last year soared to unprecedented levels due to Russia cutting its supplies of oil and gas to their countries. Do the leaders not realize that their ultimate responsibility is to ensure a decent and secure life for their people and not to endanger their security? How would they justify to their electoral bases that their people’s fate hinges on the developments on the Russian-Ukrainian front?

Worst of all, are European states ready to engage in a devastating third world war, with dire consequences worldwide? As the war enters its second year, our greatest fear is that it will escalate further and get out of control, with unspeakable repercussions. Then there will be no use crying over spilt milk.

This is an open letter to EU and British leaders. Work for the interests of your people and homelands. Look at their suffering. Stop funding foreign agendas with your money and the assets of your people. Let your priority be to end this war. Invest your best efforts in pursuing reconciliation and agreement between the Russians and Ukrainians, rather than sending arms supplies and boosting one party over the other. Beware of the consequences of going too far in fueling the conflict, as this could backfire and you would be the first to lose, with all the damage it entails.

The European peoples have stood firm out of humanitarian feelings and compassion for others; however, they are reeling under the weight of their miserable economic and living conditions. Will they keep silent while you pursue your absurd policies? A responsible leader must work first and foremost for the interests and comfort of his people. He shall not make his citizens pay the price for his mistakes and adventures.

Today you are putting the interests of others over those of your own countries. Be the pioneers of peace and stand as a strong barrier against those who seek to undermine and destroy you. The conflict’s toll has risen to hundreds of thousands of victims and millions of innocent homeless people, not to mention the destruction, which has exceeded all expectations.

I call on you to work for a sincere and long-term Russian-Ukrainian reconciliation, and I am confident that both parties would welcome this effort. There are no winners in war and the biggest losers are those who engage in conflicts instead of working to put out their flames.

  • Khalaf Ahmad Al-Habtoor is a prominent UAE businessman and public figure. He is renowned for his views on international political affairs, his philanthropic activity, and his efforts to promote peace. He has long acted as an unofficial ambassador for his country abroad.
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