MP rubbishes Radev’s stance weapons for Ukraine would leave Bulgaria unarmed

Democratic Bulgaria (DB) MP Ivailo Mirchev has hit back at President Roumen Radev’s claim that giving weapons to Ukraine would leave Bulgaria defenceless because its allies would not transfer modern arms to Bulgaria to compensate in time.

At a fractious meeting on November 21 with DB leadership, meant to have been about consultations ahead of handing over mandates to seek to form a government, Radev devoted most of the time to criticising DB about the issue of weapons for Ukraine.

Radev dwelt on Facebook posts by the senior DB members, challenging them to prove assertions that they had made on the weapons issue. Of the meeting’s about 40 minutes, just a few were devoted its stated purpose.

Approving proposals by DB and GERB, Parliament voted on November 3 to supply weaponry to Ukraine, giving the caretaker government a month to come up with a list of what it proposed to send.

Mirchev, in a post on Facebook on November 25, said that “in some institutions” there was a “legend” that countries that donated old Soviet weaponry to Ukraine did not receive modern replacements from their Western partners.

“Time to debunk the myth with some facts,” Mirchev said.

He said that in October, Greece had begun receiving the first of a total of 40 Marder armoured infantry fighting vehicles from Germany, while Greece was to send 40 old Soviet BMP-1 amphibious tracked infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine.

As early as April, it had been reported that the UK government to send Challenger 2 tanks to Poland in exchange for Soviet-made T-72 tanks that Warsaw would donate to Kyiv, Mirchev said.

At the end of August, Berlin and Bratislava had signed a deal by which Slovakia would send 30 BMP-1s to Ukraine and in return would receive 15 Leopard-2 tanks, along with ammunition, training and logistics. Mirchev said that Slovakia’s defence minister had said that the tanks being supplied by Germany would be delivered by the end of 2022.

To date, Croatia had provided Ukraine with rifles, automatic weapons and defence equipment worth 16.5 million euro. Recently, it had been reported that Zagreb would donate 14 old Soviet helicopters to Ukraine, and in return, the US would provide Croatia with modern Black Hawk helicopters.

The DB MP said that in May, the Czech Republic had sent 12 T-72s and five BMP-1s to Ukraine. In return, Germany promised 15 Leopard 2A4 tanks, with no word yet on whether the deal has already been completed, Mirchev said.

He said that on May 6, the Slovenian government had announced that it would send 30 T-72 tanks and 35 BMP-1s to Ukraine in exchange for adequate replacements provided by Germany. Mirchev said that the change of cabinet in Ljubljana in July had delayed the negotiations.

Since the start of the war, Estonia had provided Ukraine with several dozen drones and an unspecified number of Javelin anti-tank weapons, South African-made Mamba armoured personnel carriers, as well as D-30 122mm howitzers.

Latvia had armed Ukraine with helicopters, Stingers and unmanned aerial systems. As a result, in 2022 alone, the US invested a total of 180 million euro in their defence, Mirchev said.

He added the caveat that detailed information about weapons swaps often remained undisclosed by the governments involved.

“However, with political will and adequate bilateral diplomacy, there is obviously a result,” Mirchev said.

“There is no way that our Nato partners will help us with armaments, while some politicians in Bulgaria bury their heads in the sand, and instead of consultations, they analyse Facebook posts or simply try to prevent the army from replacing the ancient Soviet armament with adequate Western ones,” he said.

Mirchev said that DB would continue its “consistent efforts to modernise the army, because we believe that this is the way to a more secure Bulgaria”.

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