Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has been accused of betraying third-world countries after it emerged that he plans to divert £700m ($876.61m) from foreign aid to a new "pro-democracy" fund.

Instead of helping the poorest nations, the money will be used as a weapon against Russian President Vladimir Putin in the form of "soft power".

It was revealed that money will be spent in Ukraine and the Baltic states for "empowerment" projects that will take the shape of cyber-warfare defences and beefed-up internal security.

The SNP's international development spokesperson, MP Patrick Grady, told the Guardian the UK government was "stretching the definition of aid" to include trade and diplomacy efforts.

"Siphoning off aid funds to bolster the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence budget is a betrayal of our promises to help people living in poverty around the world," he said.

"The UK government has rightly been applauded for meeting a 0.7% target of national income for aid spending. But it must not undermine that achievement by stretching the definition of aid and putting its own trade and diplomatic interests ahead of helping the poorest and most vulnerable communities around the world."

Labour MP Stephen Doughty, who sits on the international development select committee, discussed the issue on BBC Radio 4's World at One on Monday (13 February).

"I absolutely support us bolstering the Baltic states and Ukraine against Russia," he said. "But there is a concern here if it involves diverting funds from destabilised countries in Africa and the Middle East and elsewhere, where we've also got challenges of poverty and other risks to UK national security.

"It seems like this is what the Foreign Office or Ministry of Defence should be doing rather than diverting it away from the poorest countries," he added. The annual foreign aid budget is currently £12bn.

In a statement, a spokesman for the Foreign Commissioners Office said: "The empowerment fund is in the early stages of development. Details of the fund will be announced in parliament in due course."