Bulgaria’s Parliament voted on July 21 to send about 100 old armoured personnel carriers, along with armaments and spare parts, to Ukraine.
Bulgaria has no need of the armoured vehicles, which were acquired decades ago during Bulgaria’s communist era for the Interior Ministry’s internal armed forces of the time, according to those who tabled the decision.
The decision was approved with votes from GERB-UDF, We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria and the Movement for Rights and Freedoms, with pro-Kremlin Vuzrazhdane and the Bulgarian Socialist Party opposed, resulting in a vote of 148 in favour and 52 against.
WCC-DB MP Ivailo Mirchev told the House that the vehicles dated from the 1960s and 1970s, and had been acquired during the “Revival Process”, the name given by the communist regime to its brutal campaign to force Bulgaria’s ethnic Turkish minority to forsake their ethnic and religious identity.
He said that the vehicles were the property of the Interior Ministry, which had said that it did not need them.
“I would like to dispel a few myths that are circulating on social networks and among people, and I hope with them to bring some reassurance,” Mirchev said.
“The first is that if we give armoured vehicles to Ukraine, we will reduce the combat capabilities of the army. This is not true, because this equipment has nothing to do with the army, it is simply in the Ministry of the Interior,” he said.
Both the Interior Ministry and the army had said that the equipment was not relevant and not needed.
“The next myth is that the aid we provide to Ukraine costs us dearly. This is not true. Up to now, we have provided aid to Ukraine once and it was worth 20 million leva. Ukraine has so far bought arms from us for five billion leva, and we have given them only 20 million leva.”
Mirchev said that by the end of the year, the sum would reach seven billion leva, which makes Ukraine one of the rather large investors in the Bulgarian economy.
He issued a reminder that while the caretaker government appointed by President Roumen Radev was in office, the United States offered millions of dollars compensation if Bulgaria provided military equipment to Ukraine. Reports have said that the caretaker government did not respond to the US offer.
“The next myth – by providing 100 APCs, we reduce the operational capabilities of the Ministry of the Interior. I hope that no one in this hall imagines that they want to see these 100 APCs used against citizens. And since some of them were bought during the Revival process, we should be very happy that they have not been used in any way and hopefully never will be,” Mirchev said.
He said that there were many Bulgarians living in Ukraine, and that, unlike Russia, Ukraine had not declared Bulgaria an enemy country.
“There is no way we can modernize the army with armoured vehicles from the 1960s and 1970s,” he said.
Vuzrazhdane and the BSP reiterated their opposition to providing military equipment to Ukraine, while Parliament’s smallest group, ITN, said that Bulgaria should give Ukraine the armoured personnel carriers, but send the Ukrainian “deserters” in Bulgaria to Ukraine in them.
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