Europe faces real threat of major war, EU official warns

The EU’s top diplomat also warned that the US defense “umbrella” could soon cease to cover the continent

A full-scale military conflict in Europe has become more likely due to the standoff with Russia, the EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, has claimed. He warned member states against relying on the US to defend them.

Several other European officials have cited a heightened military threat in recent months. Last week, UK Defense Secretary Grant Shapps said the world is moving from a “post-war to a pre-war” state due to the alleged threat emanating from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk made a similar “pre-war” assessment in March.

Speaking at a Forum Europa gathering in Brussels on Tuesday, Borrell claimed that the “possibility of a high-intensity conventional war in Europe is no longer a fantasy” and that the bloc must “do everything to avoid it.

The EU’s top diplomat alleged that Russia poses a growing threat to the continent. He cited the conflict with Ukraine and accused Moscow of seeking to destabilize the union.

According to Borrell, while a military conflict in Europe is not imminent and “not going to start tomorrow,” citizens should understand that the “US umbrella that has protected us during the Cold War and after, may not be open all the time.”

“Maybe, depending on who is ruling Washington, we cannot rely on the Americans’ support and American capacity to protect us,” he said.

Describing the EU as being surrounded by a “ring of fires” and instability, Borrell called on member states to become more self-sufficient with their security and to ramp up their defense spending.

He added that while NATO is as “irreplaceable” as ever, Europeans should start building their own “pillar” within the US-led bloc.

The diplomat acknowledged that Brussels’ stance on the conflicts in Gaza and in Ukraine is not fully shared by many non-Western audiences.

Borrel’s remarks follow suggestions from numerous Western civilian and military officials in recent months that Russia could attack NATO within a few years.

Speaking in late March, Russian President Vladimir Putin dismissed such speculation as “nonsense.” He argued that talk of a potential Russian attack on Poland, the Czech Republic, or the Baltic countries is propaganda coming from governments that seek to scare their citizens “to extract additional expenses from people, to make them bear this burden on their shoulders.”