Poland's foreign minister has warned that Europe is closer to war than it has been at any time in the last three decades, at the launch of his country's year-long chairing of the region's largest security organisation.

Without naming Russia in his address on Thursday to envoys from the 57 members of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Zbigniew Rau mentioned tensions in Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia and Moldova, all countries with active or frozen conflicts in which Russia has been alleged to be a party.