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Ukraine Teams Up With Poland, U.K. Amid Russia Invasion Threat

The U.K., Poland and Ukraine are working to establish a three-way partnership, Ukrainian President

Volodymyr Zelensky

said, as he ordered an increase in troop numbers to deter a possible Russian invasion.

“We are creating a new format of political cooperation in Europe,” Mr. Zelensky said in a speech to parliament Tuesday, the day the Polish and British prime ministers were slated to visit Kyiv. Both countries have been active in rallying international support for Ukraine and have agreed to supply it with defensive weapons.

“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,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said in Kyiv.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmygal in Kyiv.



Photo:

VALENTYN OGIRENKO/REUTERS

Mr. Zelensky’s announcement was short on specifics and didn’t amount to a formal alliance, but it comes during a flurry of diplomatic activity and visits by Ukraine’s North Atlantic Treaty Organization partners. Ukraine wants to become a NATO member, an aspiration that Russia says it won’t tolerate. Moscow has massed more than 100,000 troops around Ukraine, in what Washington says could be preparations for an imminent invasion. Russia denies it seeks war.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday U.S. Secretary of State

Antony Blinken

and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke, and they are expected to do so again soon after Russia responds to a slate of proposals on European security arrangements that the U.S. sent to the Kremlin last month, U.S. officials said.

Mr. Lavrov gave Mr. Blinken no indication Russia intended to take action to ease tensions on the Ukrainian border, the officials said. But one U.S. official said Russia’s willingness to continue discussions suggests a path remains open to agreement on core security issues.

In Kyiv, Mr. Zelensky also signed a decree that will increase the size of the Ukrainian army by 100,000 more service members within three years. “This decree isn’t because war is coming. This decree is so that peace, peace in Ukraine, continues,” he said. The army is currently capped at 261,000 troops.

Poland on Tuesday said it was willing to provide tens of thousands of artillery shells and ammunition, GROM surface-to-air missiles, light infantry mortars and surveillance drones, as well as other equipment aimed at shoring up Ukraine’s defenses and sending a signal to Moscow.

Mr. Morawiecki also urged Germany not to launch the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline connecting Russia with Germany, citing it as a serious security risk.

“Through launching this pipeline, Berlin is loading for Putin the pistol with which he can blackmail the whole of Europe,” he said.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on his way to Kyiv.



Photo:

Peter Nicholls/Associated Press

British Prime Minister

Boris Johnson

was scheduled to meet with Mr. Zelensky in Kyiv later Tuesday. The U.K. last month shipped thousands of antitank missiles to Ukraine, and British troops are helping train Ukrainian service members.

“As a friend and a democratic partner, the U.K. will continue to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of those who seek to destroy it,” Mr. Johnson tweeted ahead of his arrival.

Details on how the Ukrainian-Polish-British partnership announced by Mr. Zelensky might work are scarce. One senior Polish official said the idea was conceived several weeks ago to facilitate joint training and arms shipments, but is far from being formalized.

Write to Courtney McBride at courtney.mcbride@wsj.com

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