Because of the changed situation, Nato has defined the protection of the Black Sea as top priority, Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Todor Tagarev said on August 13.
“In the past decade, the Black Sea has become an area of huge tensions, of growing political and military tensions, military potential and confrontation,” Tagarev said, addressing a passing-out parade of Bulgarian naval cadet officers in Varna.
“As a result, in recent years the Black Sea basin has witnessed the first large-scale war in Europe in 78 years, as well as increasingly frequent situations towards Nato member countries,” he said, adding that this was why Nato regarded protection of the Black Sea as a top priority.
“The Black Sea is extremely important, both for security, and for the economy, transport and ecology of all member countries of the region,” Tagarev said.
Bulgaria’s Defence Chief Admiral Emil Eftimov said that the leadership of the Ministry of Defence and all the military were monitoring the situation in the Black Sea, where Russia announced the holding of exercises until August 19 and declared an area dangerous for shipping.
Eftimov said that Bulgaria is not alone in this situation, it is a member of Nato and the public may rest assured about their security.
“We are talking now about a changed situation in the Black Sea, caused by some actions of the Russian Federation,” Eftimov said.
“Bulgarian citizens should be calm, regardless of the delicate situation in the Black Sea waters related to the military actions in Ukraine,” he said.
“At this time we are not alone. We are fully aware of the information, we are monitoring, analyzing, reacting at the political, state, military level. So I can assure the citizens that everything that is taking place is under control and should not affect neither economic activity, nor tourism, nor the feeling of confidence and peace of the Bulgarian citizens,” Eftimov said.
The statements came as Russia’s defence ministry, in a claim that could not be verified, said that it had fired warning shots at a cargo vessel in the Black Sea.
According to the Russian defence minister, the captain of the Palau-flagged cargo vessel refused to stop for inspection. The Russians said that they fired “warning shots” at the civilian vessel. After the forced stop and inspection, which Russia claimed was a check for the transport of munitions, the vessel continued to a port in Ukraine.