Bulgarian President Roumen Radev appeared to blame Ukraine on November 30 for the increased tensions between Moscow and Kyiv, sparked by Russia’s capture of three Ukrainian boats and 24 crew members at the weekend.
“The risk of escalation in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine is real, but Europe should in no way become a hostage of Ukrainian domestic politics and ambitions,” Radev said, answering a question about Bulgaria’s position on the issue.
“This is why it is important to understand that we have no interest in the militarisation of the Black Sea, which will have a direct impact on Bulgaria and I hope this conflict is over as soon as possible,” he said.
Radev’s statement appeared to closely echo the accusations levelled by Russian president Vladimir Putin, who accused his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko of engineering the crisis in order to win re-election.
Radev also called on both sides to observe international law and not infringe on legal borders – appearing to repeat another allegation made by Putin, who claimed that the Ukrainian vessels entered Russia’s territorial waters. Ukraine has denied the allegation, saying its ships were in international waters.
Earlier in the week, Radev had called for moderation and the release of Ukrainian sailors – a call he repeated again, saying that sailors should not pay the price of political stand-offs – but stopped short of assigning blame for the incident.
Radev, who was elected to the presidency in 2016 on the ticket of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, has largely adopted the party’s position of advocating for closer ties with Moscow and opposing the EU sanctions on Russia, imposed over the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s support for separatist forces in eastern Ukraine.