English Section

Polish PM delivers stark warning over Russia

29.03.2024 14:00
In his first international press interview since taking office, Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk has urged Europe to prepare for a potential future conflict with Russia by embracing a new era of armament.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.
Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk.Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

Europe is at the most critical juncture since the end of World War II, he warned.

With a long-term perspective on the war in Ukraine, Tusk signaled that European countries should brace for increasing responsibilities to ensure Ukraine's stability and prosperity.

The threats ahead

Tusk’s message was clear: Europe must prepare for the threats ahead, and defense spending of at least 2 percent of GDP is the "bare minimum."

The European Union, he said, needs to be "mentally prepared to fight for the security of our borders and our territory," in the face of Russia's "hybrid aggression."

Poland currently allocates 4 percent of its GDP to defense, a reflection of its more precarious security situation compared to countries such as Spain or Italy.

Central to Tusk's concerns is the protection of Ukraine from Russia's invasion, with the nation's future largely resting in the hands of the West.

Addressing the Speaker of the US House of Representatives, Mike Johnson, Tusk said: "Look at Odesa. How many more reasons do you need?"

Johnson has been delaying a House vote on ongoing military aid to Ukraine, according to reports.

Fragile progress

Tusk emphasized the importance of maintaining Ukraine as an independent and sovereign state, highlighting the significant but fragile progress made since the outset of the war, when Russian forces were at the outskirts of Kyiv.

Addressing the difficult issue of opening the EU market to Ukrainian agricultural products, Tusk advocated for a balanced approach that would serve the interests of Ukraine, Poland and the European Union as a whole.

His comments reflected an ongoing debate within the EU, underscoring Poland's commitment to continued support for Ukraine while seeking an equitable trade arrangement.

'Hostile action at the border with Belarus'

On the contentious subject of migration, Tusk said: "In our part of Europe, migration means something different than in the Mediterranean basin. Here, it is not a spontaneous phenomenon. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian women and men spontaneously flee to our country from war, and we have been accepting them from the beginning without any restrictions."

The issue is, he said, that today we are again witnessing "hostile action at the border with Belarus" that was prepared and efficiently organized by Putin's and Lukashenko's regimes.

"They treat people as a tool, in an absolutely objectifying manner," Tusk said.

He added: "They want us to reach a point where we will have to deny our own rights and values. Pushbacks as a method are morally unacceptable. We must find a better solution. I will not justify some of the methods used by the Polish Border Guard, but we cannot be helpless in the face of Putin and Lukashenko; they not only organize it but also use it as a means of exerting pressure."

Tusk continued: "The alternative cannot be helplessness or lack of security of our European Union borders."

On his coalition's win over the conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party, and what European countries might learn from it "in terms of wresting power from populists," Tusk commented: "One needs to maintain very clear communication with the voters. If someone is a thief, we need to say that they are a thief, and if we are dealing with corruption, violence, then we need to talk about corruption and violence."

Tusk's interview was extensively covered by Poland's Gazeta Wyborcza and echoed across major European newspapers including Spain's El Pais, Italy's La Repubblica, Germany's Die Welt, Belgium's Le Soir, and Switzerland's Tribune de Geneve, all part of the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA).


Source: IAR, PAP