Bulgaria’s caretaker Defence Minister: Nato does not intend military action against Russia

Nato does not intend to engage in military action against Russia, Bulgaria’s caretaker Defence Minister Atanas Zapryanov said in a television interview on May 26, describing this as “one of the biggest speculations that continues to circulate, that Nato has any military intentions towards Russia”.

Zapryanov’s comments came a day after, in joint statements to reporters in Budapest, Bulgarian President Roumen Radev and his Hungarian counterpart Tamás Sulyok declared themselves to be against the escalation of hostilities between Russia and Ukraine, as well as against the sending of troops from Nato member states to the territory of Ukraine, as well as more weapons.

“We must not allow the war to grow in spatial scope and intensity, so diplomatic means must be found as soon as possible to end it,” Radev said, according to a statement posted on the presidency’s website.

Zapryanov said that it was 75 years since the founding of Nato, and during that time, there had not been a single case of Nato conquering “one square metre” of land of a country neighbouring Nato and annexing it to Nato territory.

The Alliance adheres to the UN Charter and is a peaceful peacekeeping organisation in the Euro-Atlantic area: “This is the truth,” Zapryanov said.

Bulgaria’s capital city Sofia currently is hosting the Nato Parliamentary Assembly, due to be addressed on May 27 by the Alliance’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, who also will hold a joint news conference with caretaker Prime Minister Dimitar Glavchev.

Asked in an interview with Bulgarian National Television if there is a hybrid threat from Russia to the elections Bulgaria and if there are concrete examples of this happening, Zapryanov said:

“There is a resolution of the European Parliament from April 25, it is public, every citizen can visit the site and see that there is clearly defined the experience of Russia through hybrid influences, not only in Bulgaria, but in many of the European member countries to influence in the European elections.

“Many examples are given of how public media, bots, business interests, as well as mobilisation in various member states, are used to influence the elections in favour of Russia, by attacking the main European values”.

In Bulgaria, there have been several baseless claims spread by pro-Kremlin players, including on social media, about military personnel from Bulgaria either being deployed in Ukraine or about to be.

Social media also have been platforms for unfounded claims of a supposed mobilisation of Bulgarian military reserves, allegations that ignore the fact that the country’s constitution requires a vote by the National Assembly to authorise mobilisation. Such a vote has neither been tabled nor approved.

In the course of Bulgaria’s current election campaign, Kostadin Kostadinov, leader of pro-Russian minority party Vuzrazhdane, said in Vratsa on May 19 that “a company of 200 men is being prepared to go to Ukraine on the pretext of guarding the Bulgarians there”. Kostadinov offered no evidence for this claim.

(Screenshot of Zapryanov via BNT)

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