Bulgaria’s National Assembly voted on December 9 with 148 votes in favour, 46 against, and with one abstention, to approve the first reading of a classified list prepared by the caretaker government of weaponry to be supplied to Ukraine.
This was a sequel to Parliament’s November 3 vote to supply arms to Ukraine, a vote that obliged the caretaker government to come up with a proposed list within a month.
In the December 9 vote, MPs also ratified an agreement between the defence ministries of Bulgaria and Ukraine on the transfer of armaments, equipment and ammunition.
With it clear from the outset that the measures would be approved by a large majority, the two groups opposed – the Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP) and Vuzrazhdane – mounted several attempts to have the item removed from the day’s proceedings, or postponed. The BSP also made a failed attempt to have the list of weaponry declassified.
In spite of the sitting on the two items initially being held behind closed doors, BSP MPs brazenly violated the rules of procedures by not only keeping their mobile phones in their possession, but in some cases, live-streaming the proceedings on Facebook, ignoring repeated urgings by Deputy Speaker Rossen Zhelyazkov not to do so.
In the five hours of fractious and ill-tempered debate ahead of the vote, the Bulgarian Socialist Party tried to label those in favour of the proposals the “coalition for war”, up against the majority of those who voted in favour of countering the Putin regime’s murderous campaign, spattered as it is with brutal war crimes against Ukrainian civilians, while the relatively more overtly pro-Kremlin party, Vuzrazhdane, regurgitated an incoherent and implausible jumble of Kremlin talking points against Ukraine.
Democratic Bulgaria co-leader Hristo Ivanov poured scorn on the BSP’s claims of being “for peace”, telling them that if they were for peace, it was a “Russian peace”.
Eventually it was ruled that proceedings would be held in open session, with Zhelaykov telling MPs that they could not quote from the classified elements of the document.
Arguing in favour of the decision, Democratic Bulgaria MP Stoyan Mihalev said that the decision to supply arms to Ukraine was belated, but would show Kyiv that Bulgaria was part of the civilised world.
BSP MP Yavor Bozhankov broke ranks with his group, speaking in favour of sending weapons to Ukraine.
“Even neighbouring Macedonia gave weapons before us,” said Bozhankov, who said that Russia had declared Bulgaria a hostile country even before it sent weapons. [Update: In the afternoon, soon after the vote, the BSP parliamentary group voted unanimously to expel Bozhankov, who had broken party ranks before, including on the Electoral Code amendments].
While the list of items that Bulgaria is to supply to Ukraine is classified, a week ago caretaker Economy Minister Nikolai Stoyanv said that it included small arms and ammunition.
Caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov, speaking to Nova Televizia on December 9, said: “What we are giving is neither S-300 [missile systems], MiG-29s or Su-25 aircraft”.
“The aid we will give is fully aligned with Ukraine’s priorities,” Stoyanov said.
In addition to the weapons, Bulgaria will host up to 60 personnel from Ukraine’s armed forces to be trained as combat medics.
Up to 50 Bulgarian military personnel are to be involved in training Ukraine’s military in the use of weapons and equipment, training that will take place with in another European Union country or in Bulgaria.
Five Bulgarian military personnel – officers or NCOs – will be deployed to the EU multinational command to assist in training, either in Poland or Germany.
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