The United Kingdom will provide Ukraine with £88 million in financial aid to support stable governance in the country and “reduce Ukraine’s reliance on Russian energy supplies,” the UK government said in a press release issued on Feb. 1.
The announcement came on the eve of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s visit Ukraine on Feb. 1, amid concerns of a renewed Russian offensive against the country.
The UK government stressed that this injection of funds will strengthen Ukraine’s ability “to resist malign and anti-democratic influences.”
“It is the right of every Ukrainian to determine how they are governed,” Johnson said ahead of his visit to Ukraine. “As a friend and a democratic partner, the UK will continue to uphold Ukraine’s sovereignty in the face of those who seek to destroy it."
“We urge Russia to step back and engage in dialogue to find a diplomatic resolution and avoid further bloodshed.”
Russia has been massing troops at the Russian-Ukrainian border since late October.
More than 130,000 Russian troops and offensive weapons have been deployed near Ukraine’s borders and in the temporarily occupied territories, according to the latest intelligence estimate from the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine.
Both U.S. and European officials have expressed concern over the situation. U.S. President Joe Biden in December declared that the White House was working out “the most comprehensive and meaningful set of initiatives to make it very, very difficult for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin to go ahead and do what people are worried he may do.”
The proposed measures include cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international banking system, personal sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and his inner circle, and a ban on U.S. dollar transactions with Russia.
On Jan. 14, the U.K.-based Guardian newspaper and the U.S.-based CNN news channel reported that Russia had positioned covert operatives in Ukraine to carry out a “false flag” operation to use as a pretext for a Russian attack.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Jan. 28 that Russia is not interested in a war, but will not allow its “security interests” to be neglected. The Kremlin demands that the United States and NATO guarantee that Ukraine will never join the alliance.