Bulgaria’s Defence Minister: Russia using fictitious exercises in Black Sea to block export of Ukrainian grain

Russia is using fictitious military exercises in the Black Sea to block the export of Ukrainian grain, which poses a risk to the security of Bulgaria, Defence Minister Todor Tagarev said on September 29, according to a report by Bulgarian National Radio.

Tagarev said that there are “preconditions for incidents in the Black Sea”:

“Russian ships are roaming around our exclusive economic zone, taking provocative and forceful actions against merchant ships of other countries. All this poses risks to our security,” he said.

Russia was using an international legal framework and it was absolutely clear its aim was to block the export of Ukrainian grain, Tagarev said. “This also hinders the achievement of our interests, especially the economic ones.”

He said that at its special meeting on September 29, the Cabinet would make a decision on a strategic review of Bulgaria’s defence policy.

“We have been preparing this for a long time, this is one of my priorities. We will try to assess how well the existing documents for the development of defence capabilities correspond to the environment, since the last review was done without a war on our borders,” Tagarev said.

He said that the government would commit to the necessary changes in the field of defence such as building infrastructure, launching various rearmament projects, among other things.

Responding to criticism on September 28 by Dimitar Stoyanov, President Roumen Radev’s security secretary and former caretaker defence minister, of Parliament’s decision to supply unserviceable S-300 missiles to Ukraine, Tagarev said: “There are many people in Bulgaria who are concerned about Russia’s security.

“I think we should be primarily concerned with our security, in part by helping Ukraine – in this particular case, to protect civilians from killing and infrastructure destruction by Russia, which is using drones, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, everything it has to attack and kill civilians. I think even if we help minimally, it’s worth it,” Tagarev said.

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