The U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss came to Kyiv on Feb. 17 in a visit that was scheduled for early February but got delayed when Truss tested positive for Covid-19.
While in Ukraine, Truss condemned the ongoing Russian military escalation, announced the cancelation of “golden visas” for the rich and took part in establishing a trilateral partnership with Ukraine and Poland.
According to the joint declaration published by the three countries, they will continue “coordinating support for the Crimea Platform, increasing collaboration on cybersecurity, energy security, and boosting strategic communications to counter disinformation.”
“The U.K. and Poland will continue to provide Ukraine with support, standing in unity with Ukraine, in the face of ongoing Russian aggression,” the statement reads.
The partnership was first mentioned by President Volodymyr Zelensky on Feb. 1, during the visit of U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson to Kyiv.
The partnership was to be officially announced the next day but was delayed after Truss tested positive for Covid-19 and couldn't join Johnson in Kyiv.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said back then that the new trilateral partnership will strengthen security and develop trade and readiness for concrete action.
Truss’ current visit came amid growing tension, which this week escalated to uncharted territory.
On Feb. 15, Ukraine suffered a powerful cyberattack. The websites of Ukraine’s defense ministry, armed forces and Ukraine’s two largest banks – PrivatBank and Oschadbank – were down for hours.
On Feb. 17, the Russian-led militants fired over 50 artillery strikes. The shelling launched from the Russian-occupied territory damaged a kindergarten, a school and several houses leaving two Ukrainian soldiers injured, and three civilians concussed.
Johnson said that the shelling of the kindergarten was a “false-flag operation” aimed at discrediting the Ukrainian government.
During her joint press conference with Kuleba, Truss said that “Ukraine’s democracy faces a clear and present threat from Russia.”
“Despite Russia’s claims, the military buildup shows no signs of slowing down, there’s currently no evidence that forces are withdrawing,” she said.
The Kremlin has already massed over 140,000 troops around Ukraine and in the Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine, while over 20 embassies have urged their citizens to immediately leave the country following the White House’s new warnings that Russia could mount a major military assault on Ukraine “at any moment.”
On Feb. 17, U.S. President Joe Biden said that the threat of a Russian further invasion remains “very high.”
“We have reasons to believe they are engaged in a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in,” he added.
Meanwhile, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said that Russia is stockpiling blood, inching troops closer to Ukraine’s borders, and flying in more combat aircraft.
“You certainly don’t do that if you’re getting ready to pack up and go home,” he added.