Russian ambassador to Bulgaria Eleonora Mitrofanova said on July 1 that she was raising with the Kremlin the issue of closing the Russian embassy in Sofia.
Mitrofanova’s move came after Bulgaria’s government rejected her ultimatum to revoke the expulsion from Bulgaria of 70 Russian diplomats.
After outgoing Prime Minister Kiril Petkov rejected her ultimatum, she held brief talks at the Foreign Ministry in Sofia.
“Unfortunately, our appeal to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria was ignored,” Mitrofanova said in a post on the Russian embassy’s Facebook page.
“In this regard, I intend to immediately raise with the leadership of my country the issue of the closure of the Russian Embassy in Bulgaria, which will inevitably lead to the closure of the Bulgarian diplomatic mission in Moscow,” Mitrofanova said.
She said that the responsibility for the further severe consequences of this step lay entirely with the Petkov government.
Two reasons have been cited for the expulsion of the Russians – one that some had been caught in activities that were a threat to Bulgaria’s national security, the other based on the principle of reciprocity, given that the complement at the Russian embassy far exceeds that at the Bulgarian embassy in Moscow.
Petkov said on July 1 that no diplomat should allow themselves to present ultimatums to Bulgaria, with deadlines overnight.
He said that his request was that Russia withdraws its ultimatum.
Petkov said that many countries in Europe had an equal number of diplomats in their respective missions, and this meant that the 43 remaining Russian diplomats should be cut to 12, the number at Bulgaria’s embassy in Moscow.
“It’s just that Mrs Mitrofanova is trying to play on people’s fears, and I think that the Foreign Ministry of the Russian state will tell her to tone down that tone, because it is not productive,” he said.
In Parliament on July 1, the Bulgarian Socialist Party sought to file a motion that if approved would instruct the Prime Minister to revoke the expulsion and require the Foreign Ministry to start talks with Russia on a lasting solution.
The Acting Speaker of the National Assembly, Miroslav Ivanov, declined to include the BSP motion on the day’s order paper.
Ivanov said that he believed it was more rational to await the development of events and, if necessary, to hold a special sitting.
Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov said that if Bulgaria gave in to Russia’s ultimatum, it would worsen the situation.
Hristo Ivanov described the calls to change the Bulgarian decision as extremely harmful to the country’s national interests.
“We cannot deviate from this decision and it is a matter of national interest. It must be supported. We should use it as a message to the Russian Federation: if from now on they want to develop relations with Bulgaria, they are welcome. But this must be done on an extremely equal basis. This is the only way forward that we have and that we see”, Ivanov said.
“The Russian Federation has for many years adopted an escalating aggressive stance, using economic, energy and other interests, a variety of means of influence, hybrid warfare, to impose its will on what it tries to claim as its perimeter of influence, which includes Bulgaria too,” he said.
“This is a long-standing fundamental problem in the relations between Bulgaria and the Russian Federation. It escalated especially after the Russian aggression in Ukraine,” Ivanov said.
(Photo: MrPanyGoff, via Wikimedia Commons)
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