Defense Minister: We are discussing a Response to Russia's actions in the Bulgarian Exclusive Zone in the Black Sea
"In recent months, Russia has used the Black Sea and Bulgaria's exclusive economic zone for military exercises, so our country is discussing various options for a response - from diplomatic to the accelerated acquisition of coastal missile complexes".
Defense Minister Todor Tagarev stated this on the National Television. He specified that the main response will not be independent, but jointly with NATO allies.
"Since mid-July, Russia has been warning that it will conduct firing exercises in part of the Bulgarian exclusive economic zone. Thus, it is blocking the normal commercial traffic corridors, which means that it is dangerous for us to use this zone economically."
"To a large extent, what is happening in the Black Sea depends on Turkey and its actions do not allow a greater escalation of tension", the minister pointed out. The Turkish side strictly observes the Montreux Convention, limiting the presence of warships in the Black Sea, including Russian.
"The engagements of our allies are not only with ships, this can be done with receiving intelligence information, with aviation that can potentially operate against maritime targets, this can also be done with coastal means, they are no longer limited by the convention"
"Several allied countries have already suffered from the conflict in Ukraine, remnants of drones are falling in Romania", Tagarev recalled. According to him, Russia's attacks on Ukrainian ports on the Danube may at some point affect Bulgaria as well.
"There is no threat of direct military action against Bulgaria, but there are risks that it will be affected in one way or another by these provocative and aggressive actions."
It is planned to create a multinational divisional headquarters of NATO ground forces on the territory of Bulgaria, and it is being discussed that it should be near Sofia.
"We are not talking about the presence of troops, but about a headquarters that is ready to manage such troops. It will be on terrain that is traditionally used by the Bulgarian army. We are talking about the regional command of the special forces between Bulgaria and Romania, about the construction of a transport and energy infrastructure, warehouses, airports."
"NATO's main policy is to deter a potential aggressor, but to also be ready if this aggressor does decide to act. The aggressor is not hypothetical - it is the Russian Federation", the minister said.
The deployment of a multinational battle group to Bezmer is only an intention, and the location has been suggested by the military. The funds for this will probably exceed 100 million leva, part of which will come from NATO.
"Many people wish the war would end tomorrow or next year, but our task is to constantly assess the risks and prepare for the worst possible scenarios," commented Todor Tagarev.
"Bulgaria has many things that are of interest to Ukraine - at the moment we are sending them ammunition that is outside the maintenance regulations and outside the direct needs of our army. The needs are changing, for example, Ukraine is currently looking for funds for demining, but we cannot help them in this", the minister specified.
According to him, the question of whether the aid from Bulgaria to Ukraine is key is overexposed:
"If something is key from the Bulgarian side, it is not the funds that we can take out of the army's warehouses, but the production of our defense industry, which for decades has specialized in the production of ammunition, small and light weapons, and they are spent a lot. Otherwise, Bulgaria is one of the 60 countries that participate in the 'Ramstein' format and help Ukraine".
Todor Tagarev refused to comment on the president's position on the provision of weapons. He pointed out that providing assistance to Ukraine is a defense of the international order and is of strategic interest to Bulgaria, because if Ukraine does not hold out, Russia can direct its aggression elsewhere.
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