Bulgaria’s position regarding the supply of weapons to Ukraine changed dramatically with the election of a new government in early June 2023.
President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy will make his first visit to Bulgaria on Thursday at the invitation of the Bulgarian government, which is considered a sign of gratitude for military aid that Sofia provides to Kyiv still.
Zelenskyi’s visit is a sign of changes in Bulgaria’s foreign policy with the election of a new government supported by the pro-European parties GERB, “Continuing Changes” and “Democratic Bulgaria”, writes Euractive. Bulgaria used to send weapons to Ukraine, but the authorities in Sofia hid this from the Bulgarian public, using intermediaries for deals.
Sofia’s position was explained by the presence of the pro-Russian “Bulgarian Socialist Party” in the government in the first months of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The government was then dismissed, but a political crisis put power in the hands of President Rumen Radev, who also opposed sending military aid to Kyiv.
Bulgaria’s position changed dramatically with the election of a new government in early June 2023.
At the end of last week, the Minister of Defense of Bulgaria Todor Tagarev said that this year the volume of military aid to Ukraine will increase. According to unofficial information in Sofia, the shipment of old ammunition from the warehouses of the Bulgarian army to Ukraine in the amount of more than 150 million euros is being discussed.
On Tuesday, the Foreign Policy Committee of the Bulgarian Parliament endorsed a declaration in support of Ukraine’s accession to NATO.
“After the restoration of peace, Ukraine should become a member of NATO. Ukraine needs to get a clear perspective for carrying out reforms. The security of Europe and Bulgaria cannot be guaranteed without peace,” said the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bulgaria, Kateryna Zaharieva.
The radical pro-Russian party “Vozrazhadane” opposed the declaration. The third force in the Bulgarian parliament motivated this by the fact that it is not clear whether Ukraine will exist after the war.
“Please do not repeat the lies of Russian propaganda. In order to preserve the international order established after the Second World War. The open door policy must become effective thanks to the military aid we provide to Ukraine,” said former Minister of Foreign Affairs, GERB MP Daniel Mitov.
A few days ago, Zelensky’s adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said in an interview that Bulgaria should be proud of the way it helps Ukraine.
It is expected that the Ukrainian side will announce to the Bulgarian authorities what additional support it needs.
War in Ukraine – help to Bulgaria
As UNIAN reported, Bulgarian Defense Minister Todor Tagarev said in mid-June that his country intends to join the pan-European program on the supply of ammunition to Ukraine. According to him, the importance of Bulgaria’s participation in the projectile coalition lies in the fact that this country “has specialized in the production of small arms, light weapons and ammunition since Soviet times.”
However, President of Bulgaria Rumen Radev criticized such a decision, calling it a “mistake” and stating that it would allegedly put a heavy burden on the economy. However, the Prime Minister of the country, Mykola Denkov, disagreed with him and stressed that Bulgaria must fulfill its obligations.
Radev is actually in opposition to the country’s pro-Western government. He used to call Crimea is “Russian”, and in April 2022 it will be performed categorically against the supply of Bulgarian weapons to Ukraine.
A few days later Tagarev announced a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine approximately the same amount as last time. He also disagreed with Radev, who called aid to Ukraine “a mistake”, noting that he did not understand the logic of this thesis and emphasized that it was an important opportunity for the country’s industry.
Moreover, it became known that the new government of Bulgaria is being assembled to eliminate intermediaries in the supply of weapons to Ukraine. This will change the position of the previous governments and the country’s president.