Poland’s Tusk Calls on EU to Build Joint Air-Defense System

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(Bloomberg) -- Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk called on the European Union to mobilize at least 100 billion euros ($108 billion) on defense and build a joint air-defense system as the bloc contends with Russian aggression.

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Speaking alongside European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Tusk on Tuesday argued that a long debate on the increasing the bloc’s defense capability must culminate in a decision soon.

“A lot of money spent well and wisely on Europe’s security will keep the war away from Europe’s borders for a long time,” Tusk told an economic conference in the southern Polish city of Katowice. “Maybe permanently.”

Poland’s premier has been ramping up calls for more defense spending as the war in Ukraine stretches into its third year, with Kyiv forces increasingly out-gunned on the battlefield. Warsaw has already said it wants to join the so-called European Sky Shield Initiative, which currently includes 21 countries.

The comments coincided with a number of events that underscored the threat. Security officials in Katowice said a room sweep where Tusk was scheduled to hold an extraordinary cabinet meeting uncovered devices that could be used for eavesdropping.

Elsewhere, prosecutors launched an investigation on a judge for alleged espionage after he fled the country to neighboring Belarus, claiming he was persecuted by Tusk’s government.

Von der Leyen said the EU should “rebuild, replenish and transform” its militaries, backing Tusk’s call for air defense. As the EU has dispatched billions to help Ukraine’s war effort, the 27-member bloc has fallen short in its ambitions to produce enough ammunition to help Kyiv stave off Russia’s assault.

Tusk warned that the region needs to spend the coming years building military readiness sufficiently to act as a deterrence against potential foes. He also called on the bloc to bolster its external border.

“European borders have to be protected, because they have become the borders between the continent of peace and the aggressors who are preparing a war for us, also using hybrid methods,” Tusk said.

--With assistance from Maciej Martewicz.

(Updates with security concerns, von der Leyen comments from fifth paragraph.)

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