bne IntelliNews – Bulgaria’s top politicians visit Kyiv to discuss military aid

Bulgaria‘s Prime Minister Kiril Petkov plans to lead a delegation of top politicians to the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in the coming days to deliver helmets and body armor to the country and show his support.

The decision comes after a visit by Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba to Bulgaria, who called on the Bulgarians to provide much-needed military assistance and to fight decisively in the conflict. Kuleba accused the authorities of helping Russia by refusing to supply arms to Ukraine.

Petkov has said that he is personally in favor of military aid to the country, but that he cannot act alone. However, the prime minister has been sharply criticized for refusing to take decisive action and remaining a hostage to one of the parties in his ruling coalition – the pro-Russian Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP).

In an interview with bTV, Petkov commented on the planned trip: “First, small or large, this is help. Second, the coalition must collectively show support for Ukraine. Being there is symbolic. It was no accident that the other [international political] Leaders went there because it is one thing to speak on Facebook and another – to go through a military area, reach Kyiv and show the Ukrainian government that we are with them.”

He added that gathering first-hand information about Ukraine’s needs is also part of the delegation’s objectives.

“Everyone says military or non-military aid. But the people there have real needs, it’s time to go into detail about what is needed and what Bulgaria can give,” said Petkov.

The delegation will include a representative from each party in the ruling coalition so that each party can make an informed decision on whether or not to support military aid. The names of the politicians who will go to Ukraine have not yet been confirmed.

red lines

Petkov appears determined to find a compromise after two of his coalition partners drew wildly irreconcilable red lines in their positions in support of Ukraine and threatened to end the fledgling but already very fragile coalition.

The BSP has repeatedly stated that it would withdraw from the coalition if the government supplied arms to Ukraine. In addition, the leader of the party, Economy Minister Kornelia Ninova, has said she would never sign any document allowing arms or military equipment to be exported to Kyiv. This has so far blocked all attempts to help Ukraine.

Democratic Bulgaria takes the opposite position. She has insisted on such help from the start and also raised a red flag on April 21 when she said that the coalition’s refusal to supply arms to Ukraine raised the question of the reasons for the coalition’s existence in Ukraine future raises. Moreover, members of the formation directly said that if the ruling majority refused to help Kyiv, Democratic Bulgaria would reconsider its participation in the coalition.

“Ultimately, what matters is whether we provide military-technical assistance to Ukraine or whether we bury our heads in the sand and hope that the conflict will end without our participation,” said Atanas Slavov of Democratic Bulgaria after a decision by the foreign policy committee Parliament to discuss the provision of “technical assistance for defense purposes” in lieu of the military assistance requested by the formation.

“This is fundamentally not the position of Democratic Bulgaria. The text adopted by the Committee on Foreign Affairs does not correspond at all to our proposals, our ideas. It cannot defend our position as a full member of NATO and the EU,” Slavov said in an interview with public broadcaster BNR, republished on Democratic Bulgaria’s website.

Furthermore, he added that only democratic Bulgaria objects to the idea of ​​only providing technical assistance as proposed by Petkov’s Change Continues.

“If there is no military-technical assistance [in the text of a resolution that parliament should vote on after the Easter break] this would at least be a red flag or a red line. This will be a clear warning of a very deep problem in the coalition, and democratic Bulgaria will have to discuss how to proceed in this coalition format,” Slavov said.

He added that this is a very serious line of disagreement that would determine the future of Democratic Bulgaria’s participation in the coalition.

Democratic Bulgaria is ready, if necessary, to coordinate military aid for Ukraine together with the opposition Gerb and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS).

Meanwhile, Slavi Trifonov, leader of There Are Such People (ITN), the fourth member of the governing coalition, gave a clear signal that his party would support arms sales to Ukraine. ITN previously denied this.

Petkov said he hopes the coalition will find a compromise and jointly decide on military aid to Ukraine.

Unofficial arms exports to Ukraine?

As the debate over military aid to Ukraine escalates tensions in the country, information submitted to Parliament by Ninova shows that since the start of the Russian war in Ukraine, Bulgaria has received weapons, spare parts, ammunition and armored defense equipment worth more than 316 million euros exported , which is three times higher than last year, reported the Dnevnik news agency.

Local media also cite data according to which Bulgaria is the fourth largest importer of arms and military equipment to Ukraine. Between February 20 and April 13, the Bulgarian authorities issued 31 licenses for the transfer of military equipment to EU member states. Exports went to Denmark, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Germany, Spain, Slovenia, Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Estonia. A transfer to the Poland-based European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) also took place.

Atanas Atanasov, one of the leaders of democratic Bulgaria, said that Bulgaria exports arms to third countries, which are then delivered to Ukraine. Rumors that Bulgaria was unofficially supplying arms to Kyiv have been spreading in recent weeks, but have not been officially confirmed by the authorities.

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