Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with Ukraine in the face of a Russian military build-up, defence ministers have declared in a new, joint statement designed to offer assistance to the beleaguered Kyiv government.

Russia has been massing tens of thousands of troops on the border of Ukraine and there have been warnings from the US of imminent invasion. Russia may try to take more territory from Ukraine. Russia accuses the West of interference and seeking to create conflict.

Ben Wallace, UK defence minister, and Ukraine Defence Minister Oleksii Yuriyovych Reznikov, issued the statement last night, following a meeting in Ukraine.

The two ministers said:

“Ukraine and the United Kingdom are strategic partners in security and defence. Last week, an Intergovernmental Framework Agreement was signed in London. This document continues progress on joint projects to develop the capabilities of the Naval Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as agreed in June when the UK, Ukraine and industry signed a Memorandum of Implementation to collaborate to boost Ukraine’s naval capabilities.”

Their meeting on Tuesday was, they said, “the next stage in bilateral cooperation for enhancing Ukraine’s defence capabilities and increasing interoperability.”

They attempted to address Russian concerns, a sign of an attempted de-escalation. 

The two defence ministers said: “Our governments have no desire to be adversarial, or seek in any way to strategically encircle or undermine the Russian Federation. We are concerned by Russia’s military build-up and activity around the borders of Ukraine. Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is indisputable.”

The statement concludes:

“The United Kingdom stands shoulder to shoulder with the people of Ukraine and will continue its long-standing determination to support them. We are unwavering in that support and together we remain vigilant and united in the defence of our common values and freedoms.”

Reaction revealed last week that Britain and Ukraine would step up cooperation. An arms deal, a commercial  deal, is also expected to be announced.