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Bulgaria 'secretly' supplied arms and fuel to Ukraine, claims report

Firstpost logo Firstpost 19-01-2023 FP Staff
Bulgaria 'secretly' supplied arms and fuel to Ukraine, claims report © Provided by Firstpost Bulgaria 'secretly' supplied arms and fuel to Ukraine, claims report

New Delhi: Among the few NATO members that publicly opposed supply of weapons to Ukraine, Bulgaria was operating a covert programme to provide Kiev with arms and fuel throughout the spring and summer of 2022, according to a report.

The scheme was largely devised by former Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov and the former finance minister Asen Vasilev, German daily Die Welt reported on Wednesday citing Ukrainian and former Bulgarian officials.

Facing strong opposition from the government coalition and the public over the supply of weapons to Ukraine, Petkov and Vasilev opted for a covert delivery scheme while making no official announcements, the report added.

Petkov had to act covertly because of the overtly pro-Kremlin sympathies among many in Bulgaria’s political class, including his Socialist coalition partners. Days after Russia’s so-called special operation in Ukraine began on 24 February, he fired his defence minister, who was refusing to call the invasion an act of war.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba had visited Sofia last April to seek military aid amid a Soviet-made ammunition shortage in Kiev.

“We knew that the Bulgarian warehouses had large quantities of the ammunition needed, so President [Vladimir] Zelensky sent me … to procure the necessary materials,” the report quoted Kuleba as saying.

Petkov’s government then gave permission to export arms to some private companies that served as intermediaries in the scheme which transported the munitions to Poland, from where they then made their way to Ukraine. At the same time, Sofia made no official pledges to support Ukraine with arms.

“Our private military industry was producing at full speed,” the Die Welt report quoted the former prime minister as saying.

Cargo planes flying between Bulgaria and Poland were “loaded to the brim” with munitions, the report added.

“We had made sure that the overland route via Romania and Hungary is also open to trucks,” Petkov told the German daily.

“We estimate that around a third of the ammunition needed by the Ukrainian army came from Bulgaria in the early stages of the war,” he added.

According to the report, the deliveries were funded by the US and the UK. Apart from ammunitions, Bulgaria also supplied fuel to the Ukrainian army and ended up covering up to 40 per cent of its needs between April and August, the report claimed.

The report also revealed that the diesel supplied by Bulgaria to Ukraine was processed in a refinery belonging to Russia’s Lukoil located in the Black Sea.

Petkov’s minority government was defeated in a vote of no confidence in late June 2022. President Rumen Radev constituted a temporary administration at the beginning of August. The October elections resulted in a fragmented parliament that has failed to form a government so far.

In December, Bulgaria approved the first official military aid package for Kiev, which included small arms and ammunition, according to the interim economy minister, Nikola Stoyanov.

With inputs from agencies

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