UK sends 350 troops to Poland amid fears that Russia will invade Ukraine

ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger reports from Moscow on the latest developments

The UK is sending 350 military personnel to Poland amid growing fears that Russia is planning to invade Ukraine.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, speaking alongside his Polish counterpart, said the troops will join the 100 Royal Engineers currently in the country, to send "strong signal that Britain and Poland stand side by side" against Russia aggression.

Both countries are part of a Western coalition seeking to dissuade Vladimir Putin from invading Ukraine after the president sent more than 100,000 Russian troops to amass on their border.

The US has said Russia could invade Ukraine "any day", triggering a conflict that would come at an "enormous human cost," however the Kremlin has denied the claims.

French President Emmanuel Macron met President Putin in Moscow on Monday in a bid to ease tensions, before flying to Ukraine on Tuesday and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is in Washington to coordinate policies that might prevent an invasion.

What has come from the latest round of diplomacy? ITV News Correspondent Rachel Younger explains

Mr Wallace and Foreign Secretary Liz Truss are also expected to head to Moscow for talks this week.

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”.

He pointed to the way the illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014 led to Nato’s “enhanced forward presence” in alliance members Poland and Latvia.

Mr Wallace denied that Nato is trying to use “divide and rule” tactics against Moscow.

Watch ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers' report from separatist Ukraine, which has been touched by conflict for eight years

“Nato is a defensive alliance. It poses no threat to Russia. It is a self-defence mechanism amongst our allies. That is what it is there for. No one wants to divide and rule Russia,” he said.

Ms Truss will travel to Moscow later this week for discussions with counterpart Sergei Lavrov.

Defence Secretary Ben Wallace held a joint press conference with his Polish counterpart Mariusz Blaszczak. Credit: PA

Tensions remain high at a time of weakened defences for the UK, with all six of the Royal Navy’s state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyers currently docked in port.

Polish defence minister Mariusz Blaszczak welcomed the additional British deployment, with the country also facing threats from Russian ally Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus.

Speaking through a translator, he said: "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.”

Labour welcomed the move to support Poland, but said "Boris Johnson has been preoccupied by protecting himself rather than protecting our national security".

Labour's Shadow Defence Secretary John Healey MP said: “With threats increasing and growing Russian aggression, ministers must halt their plans to cut the Army by another 10,000 troops in the next three years.”