Ukrainian Cargo Plane has Flown 9 times from Varna and Burgas with "Defense-Related Products"

Politics » DEFENSE | May 18, 2022, Wednesday // 13:50
Bulgaria: Ukrainian Cargo Plane has Flown 9 times from Varna and Burgas with "Defense-Related Products"

A Ukrainian An-12 cargo plane flew nine times from Poland's Rzeszow Airport to Varna and Burgas between February 24 and May 10 this year with "defense-related products".

This shows a report provided to Bulgarian media “Dnevnik” by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) under the Access to Public Information Act.

The aircraft is owned by the Ukrainian company Motor Sich, one of the largest manufacturers of aircraft engines and helicopters in the world. It flew to Varna on April 20 and 21 this year, and from there back to Rzeszow, 78 km from the border with Ukraine. The company also has its own civil and cargo airline.

The Bulgarian Foreign Ministry has issued two diplomatic permits for the flights is understood from the reference provided. The document is required when a foreign aircraft with military equipment flies through the airspace of Bulgaria. The permit must be agreed in advance with the Ministries of Defense and Transport and Information Technology, which also need a positive response to the request to fly.

In the same period, between February 24 and May 10, seven more diplomatic permits were issued for flights on a plane owned by Motor Sich to and from Burgas Airport. They took place on February 24th and 28th, on March 2nd, 6th, 9th and 12th, as well as on April 27th, according to a report provided to “Dnevnik”. However, it is not known from its contents whether the permits are for the same plane that landed in Varna or for different ones.

According to the answers to the questions sent to the Foreign Ministry, the flights were aimed at "positioning and performing cargo flights". It is specified that both from Varna and from Burgas the goods transported were "defense-related products"

Data from the FlightRadar24 flight tracking platform show that on April 21, one of the two planes, which received diplomatic clearances from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, took off from Burgas around 1 a.m. and landed in Varna 20 minutes later. At 4 o'clock in the morning the same day the plane took off for Rzeszow in Poland. It returned to Varna a few hours later.

After February 24, 2022, Rzeszów Airport became one of the busiest in Poland. It is cited as the main logistical base for the transfer of weapons provided by the United States and the European Union for Ukraine's defense in the war with Russia. A sign of his role was the visit of US President Joe Biden, who met with Polish President Andrzej Duda and US troops stationed in Poland.

A few days after the flights from Varna and Burgas confirmed by the authorities - on April 24, an An-124 aircraft was recorded at Sofia Airport, of the Ukrainian company "Antonov" - a state company for the transport of heavy loads or military equipment. The machine is the heaviest mass-produced aircraft in the world. Its arrival was reported on social media, including by Christo Grozev of the Bellingcat investigative website.

Five days later, bTV showed footage of the plane's loading, announcing that "tarpaulin oversized cargo" and "green crates" were loaded on April 28 at about 10 p.m., and six hours later has flown to Rzeszow. The television clarified that the government and the Ministry of Economy did not answer what the load was. Asked by television whether it was possible for Bulgaria to provide military assistance to Ukraine without the sanction of the National Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister Kornelia Ninova, who is in charge of the arms industry, said: "This is not possible and it is not being done."

Ninova responded to suspicions of unofficial supplies of weapons made in Bulgaria to Ukraine through third countries with the same thesis - that Bulgaria does not export any weapons to Kyiv. However, she clarified that the country makes deliveries under previously concluded contracts for 50 countries and cannot know where they go after the sale.

Ninova's written answers to a parliamentary question from GERB MPs show that only a month after Russia's attack on Ukraine, Bulgaria has exported special products worth more than 316 million euros to EU member states, which is nearly three times more than the same period last year. EU countries are the main suppliers of weapons to Ukraine According to Ninova's answers from February 20 to April 13, 2022, 31 permits were issued to individuals and legal entities for the export of weapons and ammunition to various countries, including Poland.

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