Britain and Ukraine have finalised a treaty that will enable Kiev to seek loans from London to buy British warships and missiles at a time of heightened tensions with Russia.
On Ukraine’s £1.7billion shopping list are two minehunters, the joint production of eight missile ships and a frigate as well as the purchase of weapons for existing vessels.
Any assistance from the UK to grow the Ukrainian navy will likely be viewed by the Kremlin as a new provocation.
Ben Wallace, the defence secretary, and his Ukrainian counterpart, Oleksii Yuriyovych Reznikov, said in a joint statement: “Our governments have no desire to be adversarial, or seek in any way to strategically encircle or undermine the Russian Federation.”
The statement emerged on Tuesday night after Mr Wallace visited Ukraine and as concern grows among NATO allies about what has been described as a large and unusual build-up of Russian forces on Ukraine’s borders as well as inside the annexed peninsula of Crimea.
The Ukrainian and British defence ministers said: “We are concerned by Russia’s military build-up and activity around the borders of Ukraine.
“Ukraine’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is indisputable.”
Ukraine is not a member of NATO but allies have pledged to support the country in its contest with Moscow.
The Ministry of Defence revealed that the Intergovernmental Framework Agreement between London and Kiev was signed last week in the British capital.
It is the next step in a long-running effort for the UK to support Ukraine in expanding its naval forces.
The treaty will enable Ukraine to enter into a financing arrangement with UK Export Finance, the UK’s export credit agency.
This means it will be able to receive supported financing for contracts with UK suppliers.
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