Bulgaria condemns the aggressive actions of the Russian Federation, which are leading to an unprecedented escalation of military tensions in Europe to the levels of the Cold War, and calls for de-escalation, the Foreign Ministry in Sofia said on the evening of February 16.
The statement was issued after the Bulgarian Parliament’s foreign affairs committee held a hearing behind closed doors of Ukraine’s ambassador Vitaliy Moskalenko.
Bulgaria’s Foreign Ministry said that it had received a note verbale from the Ukrainian embassy in connection with the call by Russia’s State Duma for Moscow to recognise the breakaway regions of Lugansk and Donetsk.
The Foreign Ministry said that Bulgaria fully supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within that country’s internationally recognised borders, including its territorial waters.
It said that Bulgaria supports Ukraine’s European perspective and does not recognise, and condemns, Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea.
Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov is to attend a special meeting of the European Council on February 17 to discuss the situation in Ukraine.
Bulgarian National Television quoted Moskalenko as saying that the reports and videos of a “withdrawal” of Russian military forces were unreliable and are part of Russia’s hybrid campaign.
Moskalenko called on Bulgaria to help Ukraine by providing weaponry, bulletproof vests and medical equipment.
On February 16, speaking after the first day of a two-day meeting of Nato defence ministers, Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said: “So far, we do not see any sign of de-escalation on the ground. No withdrawals of troops or equipment.
“This may of course change,” Stoltenberg said.
“However, what we see today is that Russia maintains a massive invasion force ready to attack. With high-end capabilities. From Crimea to Belarus. This is the biggest concentration of forces in Europe since the Cold War,” he said.
Stoltenberg said that from the start, Nato Allies had made clear that further Russian aggression against Ukraine would have a high cost.
“And we have called out Russia’s actions, plans and disinformation. At the same time, Nato remains prepared for dialogue.
“It is not too late for Russia to step back from the brink of conflict. And choose the path of peace,” Stoltenberg said.
On the morning of February 16, speaking in a European Parliament debate on EU-Russia relations, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Ukraine today is a stronger, freer and more sovereign country than in 2014. It is making choices about its own future.
“But the Kremlin does not like this, and so it threatens war. We stand firm with Ukraine. This is about every country’s right to determine its own future. Our call on Russia is crystal clear: do not choose war,” Von der Leyen said.
While diplomatic efforts continue and the EU hopes that the Kremlin will decide not to unleash further violence in Europe, Von der Leyen made it clear that should the situation escalate, Europe’s response will be strong and united, swift and robust, a European Commission statement said.
She also outlined preparedness efforts in case the Russian leadership decides to weaponise the energy issue by partially or completely disrupting gas supplies to the EU.
Von der Leyen said that this crisis proved that the EU needed to heavily invest in renewable energy sources and diversify its energy sources, ending its dependency on Russian gas.
“This is a crisis that has been created by Moscow. We have not chosen confrontation, but we are prepared for it. Another future is possible. A future in which Russia and Europe co-operate on their shared interests. A future where free countries work together in peace,” Von der Leyen said.
(Photo: Bulgaria’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs)
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