Indirectly Arming Ukraine: How in 2022 Bulgaria agreed to Export Weapons for over 8.5 Billion

Politics » DEFENSE | August 4, 2023, Friday // 13:22
Bulgaria: Indirectly Arming Ukraine: How in 2022 Bulgaria agreed to Export Weapons for over 8.5 Billion

The war in Ukraine has left a serious mark on the Bulgarian military industry. In 2022, export contracts for over 8.5 billion leva were concluded, with the realized production amounting to nearly 3.5 billion leva. Exports were directed to countries from the European Union, given that traditionally before that, Bulgarian exports were to countries such as India, Algeria, Morocco, etc.

The data comes from the annual report of the Interdepartmental Commission for Export Control and Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction, which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Economy. The report, with a little delay, has already been submitted to the National Assembly.

Thus, in 2022, 1,214 arms trade permits were issued.

810 are the permits for export from Bulgaria, and their total value is over 4.3 billion euros (8.6 billion leva). The realized production is for nearly 1.7 billion euros (3.4 billion leva).

Bulgaria has made the largest exports to Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, Iraq, the USA, Uganda, Congo, India, Saudi Arabia.

However, from the breakdown by continent and country, it is clear that the countries of the European Union have the largest share of issued export permits - over 3 billion euros, 1.8 billion of which for Poland, over 700 million for Romania and over half a billion for Czech Republic.

The exports include projectiles, bombs and other explosive devices, as well as elements for them, ammunition, 20 mm weapons, land vehicles and their elements, armored or protective technical means and their components, technologies, etc.

The export figures for the year in which Putin invaded Ukraine (in February) are telling enough if only compared to the 2021 report of the interagency commission.

The permits issued then were for less than 900 million euros, and the realized production - for 574 million.

Then the top 7 countries with which the largest deals were concluded and realized were: India (100 million euros), Morocco (62 million euros), Azerbaijan (59 million), the Philippines (43 million), Uganda (42 million euros), Algeria (30 million) and the Czech Republic - just under 24 million euros - compared to 2022 when more than half a billion were agreed and the realized 265 million.

Needless to say, Poland, the Czech Republic, and Romania are among the countries that have most actively helped Kyiv since the beginning of the invasion until today.

The report practically confirms the "known secret" - that a large part of the products of the Bulgarian military industry reach Ukraine - a topic that has been the subject of many disputes since the "Petkov" cabinet. The Minister of Economy at that time - the leader of the Bulgarian Socialist Party, Kornelia Ninova - vigorously denied that Bulgaria was arming the country attacked by Putin, being formally correct, since there were no direct deals, and the commission has no commitment to track the final destination of the products.

As is known, the socialists in Bulgaria declare themselves for "peace" (it is not clear how exactly they imagine it) and for "not a single cartridge" to reach the front to help Kyiv.

The same is the thesis of President Rumen Radev, respectively, and his caretaker governments, which came into conflict with the decision of the 48th National Assembly to send military aid to Ukraine. Sporadically, however, data on increased exports came out, which acting minister, Nikola Stoyanov, justified with Ninova, which froze work on a number of transactions in the last days of Kiril Petkov's cabinet.

The reports of the interdepartmental commission, however, do not deal with the issue of intermediaries in arms deals, which Ukrainian representatives have unofficially complained about more than once in their meetings with Bulgarian politicians. Kyiv has pushed for direct country-to-country deals, not only to avoid commissions for traders but also for greater guarantees of supply.

Otherwise, in terms of imports, the numbers for 2022 are modest - realized transfers are for just under 140 million euros.

The refusals issued for the year are 16 for export, 9 for import, 6 for transfer and 4 for transit. It is not stated on what grounds.

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