Claims that a new agreement is being prepared for Bulgaria to provide arms to Ukraine are “absolutely manipulative”, according to Bulgaria’s caretaker Defence Minister Dimitar Stoyanov, an appointee of President Roumen Radev, a vehement opponent of providing arms to Ukraine to help that country while it is under assault by Putin’s Russia.
Stoyanov was speaking on March 15, after the caretaker government approved a decision that any further provision by Bulgaria of arms to Ukraine should be subject to approval by the National Assembly.
Bulgaria currently has no National Assembly, with one due to be elected on April 2, in the fifth of the country’s elections of a legislature in two years.
Bulgaria’s 48th National Assembly voted in late 2022 to ask the caretaker government to provide armaments to Ukraine, a mandate that the Radev-appointed caretaker government claims has been fulfilled, a claim that is disputed.
Stoyanov was speaking during a visit to Bulgaria by European Commissioner Thierry Breton, who made Bulgaria his first stop on a tour to assess ways to step up production by the EU’s defence industry to provide munitions to Ukraine.
According to a statement issued late on March 15 by the Defence Ministry, increasing the capacity of the defence industry to produce more ammunition needed to replenish the stockpiles of EU and Nato member states was the main topic of talks with Breton.
In response to a question, Stoyanov said that the stocks of certain ammunition of the EU and Nato member states were running out, and this necessitated the production of a larger amount of ammunition.
Stoyanov said that the Bulgarian military industry would be able to benefit from the financing for this production, which will be agreed at the EU level.
“The EU funds will allow the renovation of the production base of the military-industrial complex, which, like other areas of our economy, needs to be modernized,” Stoyanov was quoted as saying.
“This is an opportunity to have a more modern military industrial complex producing munitions,” he said. Separately, Bulgaria’s Economy Ministry quoted deputy economy minister Irina Stonova as telling Breton: “We are at a key moment in which the Bulgarian military industry needs targeted help for transformation and increasing production according to Nato standards”.
Breton’s visit to Bulgaria included meetings with representatives of the country’s arms industry.
On Twitter, Breton said that he had had a “very productive exchange” in Bulgaria with local defence industry manufacturers together with Stoyanov and Stonova.
“Bulgaria has all it takes to significantly increase EU ammunition production and our defence industry resilience,” Breton said.
Breton’s visit to Bulgaria did not include meetings with Radev, who as head of state used his prerogative to appoint a caretaker government after the previous government fell, nor with the individual who is Radev’s appointee as caretaker Prime Minister.
(Photo of Stoyanov: Defence Ministry)
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