Belarus is sending special forces to three areas close to its southern border with war-torn Ukraine, its Ministry of Defense declared Tuesday. The Russia-aligned country will prepare air defense, missile units, and artillery for drills in its northwestern and western regions as Belarusian leaders fret regarding elevated NATO activity near the nation’s borders they claim is a growing threat. [tweet_embed] May 13, 2022[/tweet_embed] “The United States and its allies continue to build up their military presence on the state borders of the Republic of Belarus,” Belarus’s Ministry of Defense announced on Telegram, per a Google translation. “The established grouping has more than doubled in the past six months in quantity and quality.” Minsk has abstained from direct military involvement in Ukraine, though it has enabled Russia to use its land as a staging ground for its bloody offensive. Belarus has been one of the Kremlin’s few staunch backers throughout the war and has been slapped with a steady stream of sanctions from the West. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko also declared a missile deal with Russia to help bolster its military capabilities. Reuters reported that Lukashenko, who has been called “Europe’s last dictator,” announced that Russia agreed to help develop missiles like the Iskander, which Russian forces have used in Ukraine. “We are realists. We understand that we will not be able to defeat NATO. But we can cause damage, especially to those territories from which we will be attacked,” he cautioned. [tweet_embed] May 13, 2022[/tweet_embed] ,/p> The increasingly isolated nation shares a border with Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia — all of which are NATO members that have expressed outrage over the Russian attack. Last week, Belarus started military exercises to gauge its military readiness. Russia had conducted joint exercises with Belarus before commencing its attack. Lukashenko was almost ousted from power throughout the 2020 election before receiving economic and political support from Russia. He has cracked down on journalists and activists who have questioned his support of Russia’s invasion. [tweet_embed] May 13, 2022[/tweet_embed] “We are not across the ocean like the United States,” Lukashenko explained. “It is also unacceptable because it might knock our terrestrial ball flying off the orbit to who knows where. Whether or not Russia is capable of that — is a question you need to ask the Russian leadership.” Russia’s military failed in the initial part of the war when its primary objective was to topple Kyiv. Throughout the second and current phase, it has re-diverted its attention to the Donbas region, which is in eastern Ukraine and along the border with Russia, where a strong pro-Russian faction has engaged in fighting for years. Military leaders have announced their new purpose is to conquer that territory and the area connecting the Crimean Peninsula, which they annexed in 2014, and the Donbas.