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Europe in a ‘Pre-War Era,’ Warns Poland’s Prime Minister Tusk, Citing Russia’s Threat

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has warned that Europe is in a “pre-war era,” highlighting the threat posed by Russia, according to an interview with German newspaper Die Welt, reported by CNN. “War is no longer a concept from the past. It is real, and it started over two years ago. The most worrying thing at the moment is that literally any scenario is possible. We haven’t seen a situation like this since 1945,” Tusk said.

Since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, European leaders and military officials have expressed growing concern that the conflict could extend to neighboring countries. Despite Russian President Vladimir Putin’s repeated denials of any intention to attack NATO countries, the invasion has disrupted the post-Cold War geopolitical order, prompting Europe to bolster its defense capabilities.

The invasion has led traditionally neutral countries like Sweden and Finland to join NATO, a previously unthinkable move. In the Baltics, Estonia and Lithuania have significantly increased their defense budgets beyond NATO’s 2% GDP guideline. Moldova, bordering Ukraine and susceptible to Russian influence, is now on an accelerated path to joining the European Union.

France, Germany, and Poland, known as the “Weimar Triangle,” have taken the lead in rearming and defending Europe against further Russian aggression. Tusk, having returned to power after last year’s election, aims to reintegrate Poland into the European mainstream after nearly a decade of authoritarian rule under the populist Law and Justice Party. Poland’s defense budget this year exceeds 4% of its GDP, double NATO’s recommendation, and it has provided refuge to millions of Ukrainians fleeing the conflict.

Recently, Poland reported that a Russian cruise missile aimed at Ukraine had entered its airspace, a recurring incident over the past two years. In response, Poland has demanded an explanation from Moscow.

Despite these defensive efforts, Tusk emphasized that Europe still “has a long way to go” and must become “independent and self-sufficient in defense” while maintaining strong alliances with the US. While President Joe Biden has remained a steadfast supporter of Ukraine, former President Donald Trump has suggested that, if reelected, he would allow Russia to act freely against NATO members not meeting defense spending guidelines.

Tusk also warned that Putin might use the recent terrorist attack at Crocus City Hall in Moscow as a pretext to escalate the war in Ukraine. “We know from history that Putin uses such tragedies for his own purposes,” Tusk said, referencing past incidents like the 2002 Dubrovka Theatre hostage crisis and the 2004 Beslan school siege. Tusk noted that Putin has begun blaming Ukraine for the attack without providing evidence, potentially justifying increased aggression against civilian targets in Ukraine.