Ukraine’s president Zelensky praises allied response

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has praised Western backing in the face of Russia’s military build-up and announced an expansion of the army.

“Support for Ukraine is the biggest since 2014,” he told MPs ahead of visits by British, Polish and Dutch leaders.

Top United States and Russian officials are due to hold fresh talks on the crisis.

Zelensky also said a new “format of political co-operation” was being created with the United Kingdom and Poland.

Further details of the alliance are expected to emerge later today.

Russia has repeatedly denied planning to attack Ukraine, but has deployed an estimated 100 000 troops as well as tanks, artillery and missiles within reach of its borders.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday that Warsaw was planning to send defensive weaponry including drones and anti-aircraft missiles to Ukraine to tackle the military threat.

Poland has also said it is preparing for a potential big influx of Ukrainian refugees.

Boris Johnson’s UK government has said it will provide Kyiv with £88m ($118m) to promote stable governance and energy independence from Russia.

While Poland and the UK are part of Nato’s mutual defensive alliance, Ukraine is not, and no Nato member has offered to send troops in the event of a Russian military attack.

Zelensky told Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada, that he had signed a decree to increase the size of the Ukrainian army by 100 000 active soldiers, with the formation of 20 new brigades over three years. Ukraine’s professional army is vastly outnumbered by Russia’s.

“The decree is not because a war is coming soon. I am saying this to everyone. The decree is for peace in Ukraine soon and onwards,” he stressed. (BBC)

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