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Ukraine to increase army by 100,000 amid tensions with Russia

Amid rising tensions with Russia, Ukraine is preparing to increase the size of its armed forces by 100,000 over three years, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Tuesday.

His remarks came during a speech in parliament, where he announced that he signed a decree which also raises soldiers’ salaries.

He said the move is not for war, but to ensure peace within Ukraine “soon and in the future.”

Last July, the parliament approved a bill to raise the number of army’s soldiers and civilian personnel by 4.4% to 261,000.

Tens of thousands of Russian soldiers are said to be stationed near Ukrainian territory, a move the West sees planning for a military attack.

Moscow has denied any plans to invade Ukraine, and has demanded security guarantees including a promise that Kyiv should not join NATO.

The Ukrainian leader also commented on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to the country, which is due on Thursday.

“We are preparing to give a strong economic signal by signing a Free Trade Agreement with Turkiye within two days,” he said. “Our groups are working and I am sure we will reach an agreement.”

The two leaders are expected to discuss new cooperation areas during the visit and both countries aim to double their annual trade volume, which currently stands around $5 billion.

Turkiye maintains good ties with both Russia and Ukraine, and has offered to mediate to prevent any military escalation that could harm regional peace.