Defence Minister: Bulgaria’s multinational battle group will be ready in two months
Formation of Bulgaria’s multinational battle group is continuing and it is expected to be at full complement within two months, Defence Minister Dragomir Zakov told reporters on March 29.
Preparations are currently underway with the US military, and contingents from the United Kingdom, Albania and Italy are ready to join, Zakov said.
Zakov said that he had held talks with his Italian counterpart, who had reaffirmed Italy’s commitment to a significant contribution to the battle group.
“This is the only way for us to have a combat-ready battle group,” he said.
He reiterated that the purpose of the battle group was entirely defensive and deterrent.
Asked about the assistance provided to Ukraine by Bulgaria, Zakov said: “Assistance can be provided in many ways, it can be humanitarian, logistical, financial – I am not worried about what Bulgaria currently is supporting Ukraine with”.
Zakov said that Bulgaria was participating with close to five million leva in European aid to Ukraine, of which two million leva was from the Defence Ministry’s budget.
Commenting on the March 28 call by six former Bulgarian defence ministers for military aid to Ukraine, Zakov said: “In a situation where the Bulgarian armed forces themselves need equipment, it is very difficult for the Ministry of Defence to allocate resources to help anyone. At the moment, that is the reality”.
He said that Dutch F-35 fighters would arrive in Bulgaria next week to help protect the country’s air space.
Initially, two would arrive, and in line with the Bulgarian Cabinet’s decision, the number may increase to eight.
There are currently Spanish Air Force fighter jets in Bulgaria, which will be in the country for at least two more weeks, Zakov said.
Zakov, who took office as Defence Minister on March 1, said: “The first principle with which I came to this ministry is the readiness to make difficult decisions.
“State decisions are not always popular and do not always win votes, but it is time for such,” he said.
He said that compromises in the past on unresolved issues, made because of political expediency, could no longer be made, given the crisis.
“We need a capable, combat-ready army that can protect us and that continues to be a source of pride for society and for the military.
“Replenishing key military capabilities means serious costs that society has to bear. In order to be able to request these funds, it is necessary to ensure that the funds will be spent on real abilities and in an honest way,” Zakov said.
He said that the only option for Bulgaria’s military to be combat-ready in the short and medium term was to work with its Nato allies and EU partners.
(Photo: Defence Ministry)
For the rest of The Sofia Globe’s continuing coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, please click here.
Please support independent journalism by clicking on the orange button below. For as little as three euro a month or the equivalent in other currencies, you can support The Sofia Globe via patreon.com: