Bulgaria fully shares the opinion on the need for a long-term commitment of the European Union in support of Ukraine, which will contribute to its security, in order to guarantee the country’s free and democratic European future, Defence Minister Todor Tagarev said.
Tagarev was speaking on August 30 at an informal meeting of EU defence ministers hosted by Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU in Toledo.
The meeting discussed the EU’s contribution and commitments to the security of Ukraine, as well as the consequences of Russian aggression against Ukraine at the regional and global level, Bulgaria’s Defence Ministry said.
“Against the backdrop of ongoing Russian aggression against Ukraine, compounded by Russia’s increasingly provocative behavior, including near Nato’s borders and especially in the Black Sea region, an important element of this support must remain the provision of military assistance and training to the Ukrainian armed forces for as long as necessary,” Tagarev said.
He said that Bulgaria welcomes the proposal to strengthen support for Ukraine within the framework of the European Peace Instrument, which has already proven its effectiveness in providing timely military support to Ukraine.
“We attach particular importance to the preservation of the rules and methodology of the Instrument regarding the contributions of the member states, which guarantees solidarity and inclusion,” Tagarev said.
Defence ministers discussed the European External Action Service’s proposal to create a special package for Ukraine under the European Instrument for Peace and the EU’s long-term commitment to Ukraine’s security.
Tagarev noted the rapid results of the implementation of the EU’s tripartite approach to the provision of ammunition for Ukraine.
He said that in a wider scale, support for Ukraine should be tied to ongoing efforts to strengthen the European defence industry, including the corresponding incentives for the member states.
Tagarev expressed confidence that new European regulations to support munitions production and joint acquisition would go a long way in addressing the urgent and critical gaps in defence capabilities.
He emphasised the importance of speeding up the work on the draft regulation for the European defence Investment Program (EDIP) to ensure more sustainable investments in the defence capabilities of the EU countries in the long term, with the corresponding incentives that the European Commission will provide.
Tagarev highlighted the role of the EU Military Mission in Support of Ukraine (EUMAM) as an essential element of the Union’s overall defence support for Ukraine.
He said that Bulgaria is considering expanding its contribution to EUMAM in accordance with the needs of Ukraine with a focus on the training of combat medics, as well as a contribution to the training of ground personnel on the use of F-16 aircraft.
Tagarev called for a united and coordinated response to the aggressive hybrid actions carried out by Russia, including eliminating the division of countries that are members of Schengen and those that are not, which the Kremlin regularly uses to bring tension to the EU.
A statement by the Council of the EU said that EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell indicated that, during the meeting, the ministers reaffirmed the EU’s support for Ukraine in its defence against Russian military aggression, and discussed the next steps to continue helping the country and to achieve “solid and sustainable military support in the long term”.
One of the priorities of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU is to maintain coordinated support for Ukraine and to do so by strengthening European unity.
To ensure the sustainability of assistance to Ukraine, the EU envisages creating an assistance fund for the country of up to five billion euro per year for the period 2024-2027, which would be integrated into the European Peace Facility.
Borrell said that ministers had discussed the issue and hoped that an agreement could be concluded before the end of the year.
The status of the training mission of Ukrainian military personnel by the armed forces of the member states was also assessed, the statement said.
According to Borrell, a total of 25 000 Ukrainian soldiers have already received training, and the goal of training 30 000 by the end of the year will be achieved earlier than planned, by the end of October.
He proposed to ministers to raise the target to 40 000 trained Ukrainian military personnel in the coming months.
(Photo, of Borrell, Tagarev and Spain’s acting Minister for Defence, Margarita Robles, via Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defence)
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