Belarus deploying troops to Ukraine border to 'ensure security'

Belarus also says increased US, NATO activity in region poses a ‘growing threat’

NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!

Belarus’s Ministry of Defense announced Tuesday that it is deploying troops near its border with Ukraine, arguing that a massing of Ukrainian forces and increased NATO activity in the region poses "a growing threat." 

The maneuvers come nearly a week after Belarus suddenly announced military exercises to assess the combat readiness of their armed forces. 

"The United States and its allies continue to build up their military presence near the state borders of the Republic of Belarus," Belarus’ Ministry of Defense said in a Telegram post

Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in a military drill in Gomel, Belarus on Feb. 19.

Russian and Belarusian armed forces take part in a military drill in Gomel, Belarus on Feb. 19. (Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

UKRAINE SAYS IT’S ‘READY’ AFTER BELARUS SUDDENLY ANNOUNCES MILITARY EXERCISES 

"The appearance in the waters of the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas of a group carrying sea and air-based cruise missiles, an increase in the aviation group in the countries of Poland and the Baltic states indicate a growing threat to the Republic of Belarus," it continued, adding that "a number of exercises are being conducted on the territory of eastern and southeastern Europe. 

"Based on this, the Armed Forces have developed a whole range of measures aimed at countering possible threats," the Ministry said.  

Belarus' armored personnel carriers are seen on Feb. 17 during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range near the town of Osipovichi outside Minsk.

Belarus' armored personnel carriers are seen on Feb. 17 during joint exercises of the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at a firing range near the town of Osipovichi outside Minsk. (MAXIM GUCHEK/BELTA/AFP via Getty Images)

"The grouping created by the Armed Forces of Ukraine in the Southern Operational Direction with a total number of up to 20,000 people also requires a response from us," it added. "In order to ensure the security of the Republic of Belarus in the southern direction, the units of the special operations forces are deployed in three tactical directions." 

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP 

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko claims his country is trying to stop the war between Russia and Ukraine.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko claims his country is trying to stop the war between Russia and Ukraine. (AP/Markus Schreiber)

Rebekah Koffler, a former DIA intelligence officer and the author of "Putin’s Playbook: Russia’s Secret Plan to Defeat America, told Fox News Digital on Tuesday that "Belarus is Russia’s staunchest ally" and that the reported deployments "gives flexibility to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin to use Belarus as a launchpad for military operations off of its territory and for [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko to relinquish his ‘commander-in-chief' duties to Putin." 

She added that the deployments "can serve as a distraction and diversion, which would draw Ukraine’s forces’ attention to the border with Belarus, as Putin keeps pummeling Eastern Ukraine, to secure total control of it."