Bulgaria to Give Ukraine Air Defence Systems and Missiles: Defence Committee Approves Decision
The Defence Committee of the Bulgarian parliament has supported the provision of unsuitable, outdated or surplus man-portable air defence systems (MANPADS) and anti-aircraft missiles of various types to Ukraine, BTA reports.
This happened at a meeting on Thursday, 7 December. The decision was supported by 11 members of the parliamentary committee, one abstained, and four from the pro-Russian Renaissance Party and the Bulgarian Socialist Party voted against.
The proposal is part of a draft decision to provide additional military assistance to Ukraine, which was presented on Thursday by the parties of Bulgaria's government coalition - GERB-SDS, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria, and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms.
It refers to Bulgaria's identification of an excessive amount of weapons and equipment needed to man wartime formations and the preparation of a proposal to provide these weapons and equipment to Ukraine.
Negotiations should also be held with the governments of NATO member states on the deployment of anti-aircraft and anti-ship missile systems of the Alliance to strengthen Bulgaria's defence capabilities.
In addition, it is proposed that Bulgaria should consider joining a coalition of countries to train Ukrainian pilots on F-16 fighter jets and allow up to 160 Ukrainian military personnel a year to receive military training on a rotational basis.
Bulgaria has previously offered to provide Ukraine with missiles for S-300 systems, which the country is unable to repair on its own, but which Sofia said Kyiv could repair and use for defence.
The authorities are also looking for ways to unblock an agreement to transfer 100 armoured personnel carriers from the Bulgarian Ministry of the Interior, which was vetoed by Bulgarian President Rumen Radev.
As the BBC reported, in the first year of the war, Bulgaria helped the Ukrainian army during the "shell famine". However, Russia is waging a fierce struggle for influence in Bulgaria, accompanied by ultimatums, espionage and attempts to influence the Bulgarian Orthodox Church. For unspecified reasons, arms depots are exploding, and a well-known Bulgarian arms dealer almost became a victim of Russian special services.
In January 2023, the German newspaper Die Welt published an investigation into Bulgaria's covert assistance to Ukraine. The article stated that in the spring of 2022, the Ukrainian army ran out of ammunition and fuel, and Bulgaria, one of the two EU countries (along with Hungary) that refused to officially provide military assistance to Ukraine, secretly came to the rescue.
Although part of the Bulgarian coalition government opposed this, its leaders, Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, found a workaround. Bulgarian ammunition was smuggled into Ukraine through intermediary firms: it was sent by plane to Poland and by truck to Romania and Hungary.
According to Petkov's estimates, about a third of the ammunition needed by the Ukrainian army at the early stage of the war came from Bulgaria.