Boris Johnson is flying to Poland on Thursday in what is seen as a huge show of support for a fellow NATO ally. During this time, Foreign Secretary will be locked in talks with her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow as the West continues to warn Vladimir Putin to withdraw their own troops from the Ukraine border. Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops near the border with its neighbour, fuelling fears a major conflict may be imminent – despite President Putin insisting Moscow is not preparing for an invasion.
British officials have warned Russia any further incursion into Ukraine would be a “humanitarian disaster”.
This would potentially lead to a mass displacement of people, would have a substantial impact on Eastern European countries including Poland and Lithuania.
This has led the UK to place troops on standby in preparation for a humanitarian response if required, although they could also be used to provide further support to allies in the region.
In addition, Britain is deploying 350 Royal Marines from 45 Commando to Poland as part of a further strengthening of UK support to the country.
It comes after the UK sent 100 Royal Engineers to Poland in December after Russian ally Belarus triggered a huge refugee crisis on the border.
Mr Johnson has urged the West to remain strong in the face of Mr Putin’s “coercive diplomacy”, making clear NATO cannot accept a demand from Russia there should be no further enlargement of the alliance.
Speaking ahead of his visit to Poland, the Prime Minister said: “When NATO was founded, allies made an historic undertaking to safeguard the freedom of every member state.
“The UK remains unwavering in our commitment to European security.
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This would include doubling the number of UK troops in Estonia, as well as deploying more RAF jets to create a squadron in southern Europe, while sending a Type 45 destroyer and offshore patrol vessel HMS Trent to the eastern Mediterranean.
Earlier this week French President travelled to meet Mr Putin in Moscow, and said the Russian leader had once again insisted he is not intending to escalate the explosive crisis.
But fears are growing once again with Russia about to conduct military exercises in Belarus, which also borders Ukraine.
Western powers have continued to warn Russia that any incursion into Ukraine will result in it being slapped with crippling sanctions.
Ms Truss arrived in Russia earlier today and warned Russia to immediately withdraw its forces and respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face “severe consequences”.
She said: “Any incursion would be a huge mistake.
“Diplomacy is the only way forward and Russia must pursue that path.”