British Prime Minister Boris Johnson traveled to Ukraine Tuesday to meet with that country’s president and seal a three-way partnership between the two nations and Poland in the face of the threat of an invasion by Russia.
“As a friend and a democratic partner, the UK will continue to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of those who seek to destroy it,” Johnson tweeted above a photograph of him boarding a flight to Kiev.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky told the Kiev parliament that “we are creating a new format of political cooperation in Europe between Ukraine, Great Britain, Poland.”
Johnson and Zelensky will be joined for meetings by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki later Tuesday before holding an evening press conference.
“This is a moment in which all of Europe and the Western world must unite around the cause of the sovereignty, independence and territorial integrity of Ukraine,” said Morawiecki, who vowed Poland would assist Ukraine by sending gas, weapons and humanitarian and economic aid.
“Living close to a neighbor like Russia, we have the feeling of living at the foot of a volcano,” the Polish PM added.
Appearing at a news conference with Morawiecki, Ukraine’s Prime Minister Denys Shmygal said the trilateral agreement would “strengthen national security.”
Ukraine’s partnership with Poland and the United Kingdom, both NATO members, could serve as a first step for it to also join the Atlantic alliance — a scenario that Russian President Vladimir Putin adamantly opposes.
Meanwhile, in Moscow, Putin was meeting with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and the two leaders were also due to hold a joint news conference. Putin had been scheduled to speak with Johnson by phone on Monday, but the Kremlin said that call had been pushed to Wednesday after Johnson was forced to make a statement in Parliament responding to a report on parties held at his residence during COVID-19 lockdowns.
Also Tuesday, Zelensky signed a decree that would add 100,000 troops to Ukraine’s armed forces over three years.
Ukraine currently has about 250,000 troops in its military, compared to Russia’s 900,000.
Zelensky said the move was made “not because we will soon have a war … but so that soon and in the future there will be peace in Ukraine.”
Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops and heavy military equipment along Ukraine’s border.
With Post wires