After Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba’s visit to Sofia, conflicts erupted again in Bulgaria’s ruling coalition about whether the country should send more military aid to Kyiv.
The Bulgarian government takes its oath in parliament. Photo: EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV
Democratic Bulgaria, one of the parties in the ruling coalition, stepped up its arguments on Thursday for sending weapons to help Ukraine battle the Russian invasion after a visit earlier this week by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
“We’re against a policy that marginalises Bulgaria and causes the country to be defined by cowardice,” said Democratic Bulgaria’s co-leader Hristo Ivanov.
Atanas Slavov, another member of the party, said that “if parliament doesn’t approve sending weapons, Democratic Bulgaria might rethink its presence in the coalition”.
Bulgaria’s ruling coalition has been divided on increasing military aid to Ukraine by sending weapons.
Democratic Bulgaria is currently the only one of the four parties in the alliance which openly support sending weaponry – We Continue the Change and There’s Such a People have not made definitive statements on the topic, while the Bulgarian Socialist Party is firmly against further military help.
So far Bulgaria has been sending helmets and bulletproof vests, as well as humanitarian aid, but no weaponry. On Wednesday evening, a parliamentary commission voted against sending munitions.
Opinions have been sharply divided on the government’s reaction after Dmytro Kuleba’s visit to Sofia on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Particular attention was paid to Kuleba’s briefing with President Rumen Radev on Wednesday.
Radev described the Russian invasion as a “brothers’ war”, to which Kuleba remarked that it can only be described in that way if Radev sees Russia and Ukraine like the Biblical characters Cain and Abel.
Meanwhile, Bulgarian Foreign Minister and member of There’s Such a People Teodora Genchovska described Bulgaria as too insignificant in the wider context to contribute much.
“Bulgaria is a small country, we’re helping as much as we can,” Genchovska said.
This rhetoric that Bulgaria was quickly condemned by Democratic Bulgaria and by various popular political commentators.
“Every country is as big as its dignity. And however big we are right now depends on whether we can see the size of the historical moment we’re in, not the scale of our territory or the cowardice of our political forces and their leaders,” Democratic Bulgaria said in a statement on Wednesday.
“This is not the time where Bulgaria can play the game of being a semi-neutral country,” Democratic Bulgaria member Ivo Mirchev also stated on Wednesday.
In the first weeks of the war, officials took the position that the Bulgaria’s military is in a dire need of reform and new investments before it can send any weaponry.
“We can’t give Ukraine something we don’t have,” said Defence Minister Dragomir Zakov, who replaced Stefan Yanev, who was ousted for pro-Kremlin views and is now expected to start his own party.
At the same time, there have been unconfirmed reports of Bulgarian-made weaponry being used in the war, with the claims being denied by the government.
In contrast, to the ruling alliance’s shaky position, people in major cities have initiated pro-Kyiv rallies and have launched numerous initiatives to help Ukrainian refugees.
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