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UK to send up to 350 troops to Poland as tensions with Russia rise

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Speaking at a press conference alongside Polish defence minister Mariusz Błaszczak, Mr Wallace said the bilateral deployment would “send a strong signal that Britain and Poland stand side by side”.

Poland is facing a crisis on its own border with Belarus, whose leader Alexander Lukashenko is an ally of Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Mr Błaszczak had asked British ministers for the additional forces to be sent to the east of his country.

Mr Błaszczak said the British troops would “cooperate with the Polish armed forces on increasing the security especially against the threat on the border”.

He added: “We are facing another challenge, the Russian aggressive policy towards Ukraine and as part of Nato, but also on a bilateral level, Poland and the United Kingdom are really to do all the necessary decisions in order to deter the potential aggressor.

“Based on historical experience, we see that only a decisive deterrence policy can stop any potential Russian aggression and, based on the very same history, we do see that the policy of appeasement only encourages the potential enemy to do something.”

Last year, the UK sent 100 troops to Poland to help support it with a migrant crisis at its border with Belarus. Mr Wallace’s announcement on Monday means there will be up to 600 British troops in Poland – one of the largest deployments overseas by the UK Armed Forces.

Around 100,000 Russian troops have amassed close to the Ukrainian border, with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warning that an attack could be launched “at very short notice”.

Mr Wallace warned that if Russia makes the “foolish mistake” of invading Ukraine it will face severe sanctions, isolation and “more Nato – the very things that President Putin says he doesn’t want”.

Diplomatic efforts to resolve the Ukraine crisis will continue this week, with Mr Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss expected to head to Moscow for talks.

Last week, Mr Putin accused the US of attempting to draw Russia into a war with Ukraine.

He said: “It seems to me that the United States is not so much concerned about the security of Ukraine… but its main task is to contain Russia’s development. In this sense Ukraine itself is just a tool to reach this goal.”

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