President Radev: Bulgaria will want guarantees arms sold to third countries do not go to Ukraine

If Bulgaria sells weapons to other countries, it will set conditions that they will not be resold to Ukraine, President Roumen Radev said on March 23 as he arrived for a European Council meeting in Brussels.

Bulgaria would not participate in European joint procurement of 155mm artillery shells for Ukraine, Radev.

Radev, who is attending the European Council on behalf of Bulgaria because the country does not have an elected head of government to do so, repeatedly has opposed Bulgaria providing arms to Ukraine, saying that he favours a diplomatic solution to achieve “peace”.

Earlier this week, Radev said that it was Bulgaria’s “sovereign” decision to not participate in supplying weaponry to Ukraine.

In fact, before it was dissolved to make way for early parliamentary elections, Bulgaria’s 48th National Assembly mandated the caretaker government to supply weapons to Ukraine.

The caretaker government has claimed that it has fulfilled this mandate, a claim that is disputed. Critics of Radev say that by effecting ordering the caretaker government he appointed not to supply arms to Ukraine, he is running counter to the will of Parliament – in a country that, constitutionally, is a parliamentary democracy.

In his March 23 remarks to journalists, Radev said: “Seventeen countries plus Norway, which is not a member of the European Union, have entered into an agreement with the European Defence Agency for common delivery. Bulgaria is not among them. We only commit to projectiles that can go to our partners and allies if they ask us, but not with Ukraine. Am I clear?”

Asked how he would react if the ammunition sold by Bulgaria to another country ended up in Ukraine, Radev said: “This is the responsibility of that country. It is obliged to let us know what it wants these projectiles for as an end user. Of course, we will set conditions”.

Responding to a question as to how he would react if the next Parliament votes for arms for Ukraine, he said: “I expect and call on the next Parliament to prioritise the increase of Bulgaria’s defence capacity.

“And if Parliament again calls for the delivery of weapons to Ukraine by the Bulgarian army, let it have the courage to form a regular government and be responsible to the Bulgarian citizens,” Radev said.

In 2022, Bulgaria’s Parliament first voted to provide only “military-technical” assistance to Ukraine, not arms, before the later vote to supply weaponry.

However, it has emerged that in the course of 2022, after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Bulgaria was supplying arms to Ukraine, via third countries.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, arriving for the European Council meeting, told reporters: “I will explain to the leaders the agreement to provide ammunitions to Ukraine. 

“They discussed that at the last European Council. Estonia made a proposal. I was tasked to implement this proposal and at this European Council, I will have the chance and the honour to present to the leaders our proposal to provide ammunitions to Ukraine,” Borrell said, noting that the move would involve a million rounds of artillery ammunition to Ukraine within 12 months, in a two billion euro project.


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