Polish PM Tusk warns Europe has entered ‘pre-war era’

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk


Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has warned of the “real” threat of conflict in Europe, saying that for the first time since the end of World War II the continent has entered a “pre-war era”.

“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 in an interview with the European media grouping LENA on Friday (29 March).

“I know it sounds devastating, especially for the younger generation, but we have to get used to the fact that a new era has begun: the pre-war era. I’m not exaggerating; it’s becoming clearer every day.”

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago upended European leaders’ sense of unshakeable post-war peace, prompting many countries to gear up weapons production to supply both Kiev and their own militaries.

Former European Council president Tusk, whose country has been one of the staunchest supporters of neighbouring Ukraine, said Friday that if Kyiv lost, “no one” in Europe would feel safe.

Also front of mind for the continent is the potential return of former US president Donald Trump, whose openly NATO-sceptic posture has raised questions over the reliability of American military assistance should he be re-elected in November.

“Our job is to nurture transatlantic relations, regardless of who the US president is,” Tusk said in the interview.

French President Emmanuel Macron has stepped forward to send the message that European allies would stand in support of Ukraine no matter who will win the US election. But he sparked controversy when he declared on 26 February that “nothing had been ruled out” regarding sending troops to Ukraine.

He began by assuring the French that France would “never” take the “initiative” in any offensive in Ukraine, but he “accepts the possibility”.

“We are not at war with Russia, but we must not let it win”, Macron insisted.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an interview published on Friday that if Ukraine does not get promised US military aid blocked by disputes in Congress, its forces will have to retreat “in small steps”.

“If there is no US support, it means that we have no air defence, no Patriot missiles, no jammers for electronic warfare, no 155-milimetre artillery rounds,” Zelenskyy told the Washington Post.

“It means we will go back, retreat, step by step, in small steps,” he said. “We are trying to find some way not to retreat.”

Shortages of munitions, he said, meant “you have to do with less. How? Of course, to go back. Make the front line shorter. If it breaks, the Russians could go to the big cities.”

Democratic President Joe Biden has urged the Republican-controlled US House of Representatives to endorse the military and financial aid package, but House Speaker Mike Johnson has held up the matter for months, citing domestic priorities.

Zelenskyy told Johnson in a telephone conversation on Thursday that approval of the package was vital.

Russian forces captured the eastern town of Avdiivka last month and have made small gains since, but the front lines have changed little in months.

In his interview, the Ukrainian president said Ukraine was making up for shortages of missiles with home-produced weaponry and air defence systems, “but it is not enough”.

More than two years into the war, Russia has intensified attacks on energy and other infrastructure in recent weeks.

Ukrainian troops have been unable to advance, and Zelenskyy said Kyiv intended to pursue attacks on targets in Russia, including oil refineries.

He said Washington’s reaction to the wave of Ukrainian attacks was “not positive”, but Kyiv was using its own drones.

“We used our drones. Nobody can say to us you can’t,” he told the newspaper. If there is no air defence to protect our energy system and Russians attack it, my question is: Why can’t we answer them?” he said.

“Their society has to learn to live without petrol, without diesel, without electricity. When Russia will stop these steps, we will stop.”

Source: Euractiv.com

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