Defence Minister Dragomir Zakov said that due to the country’s poor military capabilities, Bulgaria will not send arms to Ukraine and will focus on strengthening its own underfunded army.
A MiG-29 fighter jet flies past an EU flag in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, February 2022. Photo: EPA-EFE/BORISLAV TROSHEV
“We can’t give Ukraine something we don’t have,” Defence Minister Dragomir Zakov told Bulgarian media on Tuesday, explaining why the country has decided not to send military supplies to the Kyiv authorities to assist their fight against the Russian invasion.
Instead, Zakov named several key areas in which Bulgaria’s military resources must be updated. These include development of artillery support capabilities, acquisition of 3D radars, construction of an air defence system, unmanned aerial vehicles, multi-purpose diesel-electric submarines, ammunition for naval vessels, coastal missile systems and the acquisition of field communication equipment.
Zakov’s comments came after a statement on Monday signed by six former defence ministers, urging Bulgaria to do the opposite and send weapons to help the Ukrainian army.
“Bulgaria needs to become part of the pan-European and Euro-Atlantic response to the aggression against Ukraine as soon as possible,” said the declaration.
But according to Zakov, Bulgaria’s army is in dire need of revitalisation before any such steps can be made.
“We need a capable and combat-ready army that can protect us. We need to restore key military capabilities, but this means that serious spending must be done,” the minister said.
Zakov also disclosed that Italy will probably command Bulgaria’s group of around 1,000 soldiers which will be trained in the country’s NATO bases.
“This international troop will have defensive functions, it won’t be sent to combat on a foreign territory,” he promised.
His proposal goes against President Rumen Radev’s wish for the soldiers to be under Bulgarian command, and previous comments from Prime Minister Kiril Petkov that this will indeed be the case.
Bulgaria also expects to receive F-35 fighter jets from The Netherlands, he said.
In another development on Tuesday, the Defence Ministry said that no mines have been found around the Black Sea following days of conflicting information and indications from the Maritime Rescue Coordination Center in Varna and Turkey’s Ministry of National Defence. According to the authorities, all alerts have turned out to be false.
Zakov became defence minister on March 1. His predecessor Stefan Yanev was ousted after he said that Bulgaria should be neutral over the invasion of Ukraine and echoed the Kremlin’s rhetoric of calling the war a “special military operation”.
Source link: balkaninsight.com