Bulgaria Sends Military Aid To Ukraine

On November 3rd, the majority of lawmakers in Bulgaria’s parliament approved sending military aid to Ukraine. This decision was made with the approval of a six-point plan to decide which type and how many weapons they should send. 175 lawmakers voted to send military supplies, and another 49 voted against the motion, revealing even more vividly the division within the Bulgarian parliament on this topic.

President Rumen Radev and Minister of Defense Dragomir Zakov spoke out against the motion. The president stated that Bulgaria cannot afford such weapon deliveries and that these actions could draw Bulgaria much further into the war. The Bulgarian’s pro-Russian Revival Party protested while the decision was being made in front of parliament, with Revival MP Angel Georgiev describing the parties in support of sending military aid to Ukraine as “euro-Atlantic ragbags,” while Socialist member Kristian Vigenin said it was “collective irresponsibility.” On the other hand, one of the pro-Russian parties saw this motion as an opportunity for Bulgaria to renovate and modernize its weapon’s stock. In particular, Bulgarian Rise’s former caretaker, Prime Minister Stefan Yanev, recently approved sending military aid, but under one condition: Bulgaria should receive modern NATO weapons in return.

Bulgaria and Hungary were the only two NATO and EU countries who had officially refused to send military aid to Ukraine. In the meantime, Bulgaria was revealed to be one of the biggest indirect suppliers of weapons for Ukraine. Experts estimate that Bulgaria has so far supplied Ukraine with $1 billion of weapons and ammunition. In the first four months after the Russian invasion of Ukraine, 4,200 tons of weapons were sent from Bulgaria to Rzeszów airport in Poland, 70km from the Ukrainian border, the former head of Bulgaria’s Kintex weapons plant Alexander Mihailov told a news conference on August 4th. Mihailov said that all weapons were exported under the signature of the Minister of Economy Korneliya Ninova. Mihailov, who was fired from his Kintex post by Ninova, told the news conference that he had documentary proof of the flights carrying the weapons, although he never showed the documents: “I claim that huge quantities of weapons were exported to Ukraine with her signature, and everyone in the chain knew about it. I am giving this news conference to prove Mrs. Ninova is lying. She claims that ‘not a single Bulgarian cartridge went to Ukraine’, which is not the case. With her signature, weapons of enormous value were exported,” Mihailov said.

Bulgaria has been sending weapons and ammunition to Ukraine indirectly through several airports in Europe, especially through Romania and Poland, even if officially it was one of the two countries which formally refused to help Ukraine and send military aid. Even though the parliament does not unanimously agree on this subject, the export of military equipment can now be done transparently and straightforwardly, with a government plan showing which type and how many weapons are exported. It is time for the government to produce a plan within the next month, hoping this will help the growth of Bulgaria’s economy. However, Bulgaria heavily depends on Russian energy supplies and this decision could negatively affect the current links between Bulgaria and Russia.

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