At a Cabinet meeting this week, ministers from the Bulgarian Socialist Party opposed the deployment of eight Netherlands Air Force F-35 fighter jets to help guard Bulgaria’s air space, BSP parliamentary group deputy leader Filip Popov told reporters on March 11.
The Cabinet agreed on March 8 to the deployment, proposed by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, of eight Dutch F-35s and 200 military personnel from the Netherlands.
The deployment is to last until June 24, with the Netherlands Air Force assisting in air policing and also carrying out Nato air defence tasks. The Cabinet decision forbids the Dutch pilots from opening fire, including warning shots.
A deployment of Spanish Air Force fighter jets that began earlier and had been scheduled to end on April 5 has been extended to April 15, according to the Cabinet decision.
Popov told reporters that all institutions and security services in Bulgaria said that there was no direct danger to Bulgaria from the military conflict in Ukraine.
“Our Cabinet ministers voted against these fighters coming to Bulgaria to protect us, because there is no need at the moment, given the situation and the data from all the services,” he said.
In other news in Bulgaria related to Putin’s war on Ukraine:
The head of Bulgaria’s fire safety and population protectorate, Chief Commissioner Nikolai Nikolov, gave a briefing on March 11 about Bulgaria’s fallout and other shelters, responding to numerous media and public inquiries about the matter.
Emphasising that there was no direct threat to Bulgaria or any reason to expect an attack, Nikolov said that a list of shelters currently in good or adequate condition was online, and would be updated every two weeks. He gave reporters a tour of a shelter in Sofia’s Slatina area.
There are 292 shelters in Bulgaria in good or satisfactory condition, Nikolov said.
Intensive inspections are underway, with instructions to be increase the number.
He said that every building built after the 1960s had a shelter.
In almost all schools and near almost all kindergartens, there are shelters.
In Sofia, the underground metro railway system could shelter about 900 000 people, he said.
“When we talk about shelters, we have to bear in mind that in our cities, any basement, underground floor can be used.”
He said that in recent years, only about two million leva had been allocated for the maintenance of shelters.
The prices of oil-bearing sunflowers have jumped by close to 70 per cent since the start of the war in Ukraine, Donika Ivanova, marketing manager at one of the largest refineries based in Stara Zagora, told Radio Stara Zagora on March 11.
Ivanova rejected talk of price speculation.
Earlier this week, Bulgaria’s government alleged that producers were exporting to more lucrative markets and holding back supplies in expectation of price increases on the domestic market.
According to Ivanova, it cost a factory six leva to produce a litre bottle of sunflower oil, with no profit.
Apart from the rising prices of oil-bearing sunflowers, other factors pushing up production costs were increased gas and electricity prices, she said.
(Photo: Netherlands Air Force)
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