Bulgaria’s Defence Minister: Russia’s partial mobilisation ‘risk but not direct threat’

The events in Russia and the partial mobilisation announced by Russian ruler Vladimir Putin, as well as the expected “referendums” in the Russian-controlled Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporozhye and Kherson regions of Ukraine are a risk to Bulgaria’s national security, but there is no direct threat, according to caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov.

Stoyanov, speaking on September 21, said that for now there was no need to increase the Nato contingent in Bulgaria.

He said that an official position on what is happening in Russia and Ukraine should be expressed by the Foreign Ministry.

“Every single conflict that is frozen, smouldering or a hot conflict like in Ukraine is a national security risk, any conflict. If it starts with the flow of refugees, with the use of economic means, it affects our national security in one way or another. We feel it ourselves, we’re seeing what happens to prices,” Stoyanov said.

Bulgaria was a Nato member and the Alliance’s Article 5 – which deems an attack on one member to be regarded as an attack on all – was the guarantee of Bulgaria’s national security, he said.

Putin announced the partial mobilisation on September 20, reportedly affecting about 300 000 Russian military reservists. Media reports said that prices of flights out of Russia had skyrocketed and local officials had been told to ensure that no bus or train tickets were sold to men who appeared to be of military age.

On September 20, European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, noting that so-called “authorities”, appointed illegitimately by Russia in the territories of Ukraine it militarily occupies, had announced preparations for illegal “referendums”, said: “This is Russia’s attempt to legitimise its illegal military control and aims to forcibly change Ukraine’s borders in clear violation of the UN Charter and Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity”.

Borrell said that the EU strongly condemns these planned illegal “referendums”.

“The results of such actions will be null and void and would not be recognised by the EU and its member states,” he said.

Borrell said that since the start of the invasion Russia has intimidated, illegally detained, tortured and abducted Ukrainian citizens and a significant part of the original population in the invaded areas has been forced to flee.

Legally elected local officials have, in some cases, been forcibly replaced. Access to the internet, free and independent media and freedom of expression have also been greatly restricted, he said.

“Russia, its political leadership, and all those involved in these ‘referenda’ and other violations of international law in Ukraine will be held accountable, and additional restrictive measures against Russia would be considered,” Borrell said.

(Photo of Stoyanov: Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry)

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