Ukrainian embassy in Sofia in sharp reaction to Bulgarian President’s controversial statements

Ukraine’s embassy in Sofia said on July 15 that Ukraine was making every effort to restore peace, in a statement seen as a rebuke to Bulgarian President Roumen Radev over his controversial statements about “Ukraine insisting on waging this war”.

Radev, speaking on July 14, caused widespread outrage by claiming that the result of what he called Ukraine waging war was “the bill is being paid by the whole of Europe”.

Consistently at odds with Bulgaria’s pro-Western government, which has a policy of supplying weaponry to Ukraine so that that country can defend itself against Russia’s illegal invasion, Radev said that the government “does not have thinking of its own” and said that the government should “stop seeing the Bulgarian armed forces as a warehouse of the armed forces of a foreign army”.

He derided the government policy of supplying arms to Ukraine, and directly echoed – not for the first time – a Kremlin talking point that helping Ukraine with weaponry was resulting in “the conflict deepening” and “the more weapons it (Ukraine) absorbs, the more dead people and destruction, the greater the risk, the more this war will drag on”.

Radev’s comments came just more than week after, during a visit to Sofia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy demolished Radev’s arguments at a meeting in the Presidency.

The Ukrainian embassy said in its post on Facebook on July 15 that since 2014, the Ukrainian people had been heroically defending their territorial integrity and state sovereignty.

“Russia as a terrorist state continues its armed aggression against Ukraine, intensifying threats and nuclear blackmail against a democratic international community,” the embassy said.

“Blaming Ukraine, which was treacherously attacked by its northern neighbour, for the ongoing war is one of the most common supporting theses of Russian propaganda and hybrid warfare in Europe,” it said in a clear reference to Radev.

“Only the Kremlin regime and its followers avoid calling Russia’s war against Ukraine the word ‘war, masking Russian aggression and genocide against the Ukrainian people under the terms ‘conflict’ and ‘special operation’,” the embassy said in an equally clear reference to Radev (and which also could be read as a reference to the two minority pro-Kremlin parties in the National Assembly, along with other points the embassy made).

“We want to emphasize that the provision of defence resources to Ukraine does not lead to an increase in the amount of casualties and destruction, on the contrary – it means more saved lives of ordinary citizens, their families and children, as well as their homes and dwellings.”

The provision of safety guarantees to Ukraine – these are also guarantees for the safety of Europe, including Bulgaria, the embassy said.

Taking into account the launched election campaign for local elections, the embassy appealed to what it called “certain political forces” to refrain from using accusations against Ukraine, which is suffering from Russian military aggression, to achieve situational political goals.

The embassy said that this also applies to speculations about Ukrainian citizens of Bulgarian origin, the numerous Bulgarian diaspora in Ukraine. They, like the representatives of other national minorities, are patriots of their country and are protecting their homes and relatives from the atrocities of the Russian occupiers.

Ukraine is grateful to the Republic of Bulgaria for providing aid and continuous support in political, military-technical, financial and humanitarian spheres, the embassy said.

“The embassy of Ukraine sincerely thanks the millions of Bulgarians who have shown sympathy and extended a helping hand in this extremely difficult moment for the Ukrainian people.”

Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov reacted on July 14 to Radev’s statements, saying that the Presidency was constantly issuing provocations.

Denkov asked when Radev had his own opinion – when he signed a declaration in support of Ukraine, or “when today he repeated some Russian talking points that have nothing to do with what EU and Nato members present as their position”?

Bulgaria’s national interest lay in the war ending by Russia withdrawing its troops from Ukraine, in Ukraine joining Nato, and Bulgaria building its defensive capabilities in full compliance with the plans adopted at the Nato Summit in Vilnius earlier in July.

The one who was insisting on fighting the war were the circle around Putin, Denkov said.

“They started this war. I say again: the quickest way to stop this war is for that same circle to call on their troops to get out,” the Bulgarian Prime Minister said.

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