War is a real threat and Europe is not prepared, warns Poland's Tusk – Global News (Trending Perfect)

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  • By Sarah Rainsford, in Kharkiv, and Paul Kirby
  • BBC News

Image source, Hannibal Hanschke/EPA-EFE

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Tusk (right) praised the change in mentality among European allies, but said that the next two years will be decisive.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has warned that Europe is going through a “pre-war period” and that Ukraine should not be defeated by Russia for the good of the entire continent.

He said that the war “is no longer a concept from the past,” adding, “It is real and began more than two years ago.”

His statements came after Russia launched a large-scale attack on Ukraine's energy system on Thursday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that Moscow had no “aggressive intentions” toward NATO countries.

He added that the idea that his country, which has one of the world's largest nuclear arsenals, would attack Poland, the Baltic states and the Czech Republic – all members of NATO, unlike Ukraine – is “complete nonsense.”

But he warned that if Ukraine used Western F-16 warplanes from airports in other countries, they would become “legitimate targets wherever they are.”

After Russia launched its full-scale war in Ukraine in February 2022, relations with the West reached their lowest levels since the worst days of the Cold War.

Nearly 100 missiles and drones were used in the latest Russian attack on Ukraine, leaving many areas experiencing partial power outages.

It was the second such attack – in which Russia launched a large number of weapons simultaneously to overwhelm Ukraine's defenses – within a week.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described the tactic as “missile terrorism” and warned that attacks on hydroelectric power plants could lead to a major environmental disaster.

Speaking to the BBC, the mayor of Kharkiv – where small businesses rely on generators and industry faces difficulties amid power outages – described the damage to the grid as “very serious” and said it could take two months to fully restore it.

Tusk called for urgent military aid to Ukraine, warning that the next two years of war would decide everything, adding: “We are living in the most important moment since the end of World War II.”

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Mr. Tusk (right) and Polish President Andrzej Duda held talks earlier this month with President Biden at the White House

In his blatant interference in European security, he pointed out that Russia attacked Kiev with hypersonic missiles in broad daylight for the first time.

He said Putin's attempt to blame Ukraine for the jihadist attack on Crocus City Hall in Moscow without evidence shows that the Russian president “clearly feels the need to justify increasingly violent attacks on civilian targets in Ukraine.”

Tusk used his first interview with European media since returning to the Polish Prime Minister's Office at the end of 2023 to urge leaders across the continent to strengthen their defences.

He said Europe did not need to create “parallel structures to NATO” but that the continent would be a more attractive partner for the United States if it became more militarily self-sufficient, regardless of who wins the US presidential election in November.

Poland now spends 4% of its economic output on defence, while other European countries have yet to meet NATO's target of 2%.

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Tusk said Poland now spent 4% of its gross domestic product on defense and called on other EU countries to achieve the 2% target.

Tusk, the former president of the European Council, warned that Europe must be prepared for war before.

He revealed that Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez asked his fellow European Union leaders to stop using the word “war” in their summit statements because people do not want to feel threatened.

Tusk said he responded that war in his part of Europe was no longer an abstract idea, warning that “literally any scenario is possible.”

He continued: “I know that it seems devastating, especially for the younger generation, but we have to mentally get used to the arrival of a new era. The pre-war era.”

When he was Poland's first prime minister, from 2007 to 2014, he said that few other European leaders, except Poland and the Baltics, recognized Russia as a potential threat.

Tusk was more optimistic about what he called a real revolution in mentality across Europe.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's newly appointed commander-in-chief, General Oleksandr Sirsky, admitted in a rare interview that Russia outguns Ukrainian forces “by a ratio of six to one” on the front line.

He said Ukraine had lost territory that it “undoubtedly would have held” had it been provided with adequate ammunition and an air defense system, and described the situation in some combat zones as “tense.”

The latest warning by Poland's Prime Minister reflects what his Baltic neighbors have been saying for some time: If Russia can get away with invading, occupying and annexing entire provinces in Ukraine, how long, they fear, before President Putin decides to launch a similar attack against countries like theirs, which were part of Moscow's orbit?

Per capita defense spending is significantly higher in NATO countries bordering Russia than in Western Europe.

Vladimir Putin, who critics say has just “reappointed himself” to a fifth presidential term in a “sham election”, said he has no plans to attack a NATO member state.

But Baltic leaders, such as Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, say Moscow's word cannot be trusted. In the days leading up to Russia's large-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed Western warnings of an impending invasion as “propaganda” and “Western exaggeration.”

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