Bulgaria’s parliament has authorized arms sales to Kiev, despite a third of the country favoring cooperation with Russia
Bulgarian lawmakers voted Thursday to provide Ukraine with weapons, and socialist and nationalist MPs opposed the decision. This leaves Hungary as the last NATO member to refuse to provide military aid to Kiev.
A bill allowing arms supplies to Ukraine was passed by the Bulgarian National Assembly by 175 votes to 49, the news site Novinite reported. The bill was proposed by the pro-Western GERB party, which is currently the largest faction in the assembly as coalition talks continue after last month’s elections.
The issue of arms supplies to Ukraine is a controversial issue in Bulgaria, where nearly a third of the population considers Russia their country’s main strategic partner, 35% considers Ukraine a “puppet of the west”, and 38% want to leave the NATO alliance, according to Globsec, a Slovakian think tank.
Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has spoken out against arms transfers to Kiev, arguing that those in favor of arms transfers “warmongers” who risk dragging Bulgaria into the conflict with Russia.
Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova, whose party was in a ruling coalition until August, warned on Thursday that: “The Bulgarian national interest is not to supply weapons, because that would make us a party to the conflict.” Kostadin Kostadinov’s ‘Revival’ party also voted against the bill, with the nationalist leader complaining that “Bulgaria is supposedly ruled by Bulgarians, and we are talking about supplying our few remaining armaments and literally putting Bulgaria into war.”
While Bulgarian parliamentarians have debated the country’s official stance on its neighbor’s armaments, the country’s arms industry has reportedly sold more than $1 billion worth of arms since February to customers in Poland and Romania for re-export to Ukraine.
It is still unclear how much of Bulgaria’s mainly Soviet arms stockpile will be sent to Ukraine, and what NATO equipment the alliance will offer Sofia as a replacement. The government now has a month to list equipment for export and negotiate replacement with Western NATO members.
With the bill passed, only one NATO member remains steadfast in its refusal to arm Ukraine: Hungary. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has refused to supply weapons or allow weapons into Ukraine through Hungarian territory. Orban has also refused to ban an embargo on Russian energy exports and has called for direct talks between Russia and the US to end the conflict.
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