site.btaDie Welt: Bulgaria, the Country that Secretly Saved Ukraine
In the spring of last year, the Ukrainian army experienced a desperate shortage of Soviet-made ammunition and fuel, necessary for the fight against the Russians, writes the German daily Die Welt, quoted by POLITICO. The German publication stressed that salvation came from an unexpected country: Bulgaria.
Due to its disjointed domestic politics, and the pro-Russian bias of a large part of the elite, Bulgaria tried to stress during the invasion that it was not arming Ukraine, notes POLITICO.
However, this was a smokescreen, according to an investigation by the German daily Die Welt. Thanks to exclusive interviews with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, former Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and Finance Minister Assen Vassilev, the publication has pieced together how Bulgaria intervened in the war and used intermediaries to provide Kyiv with vital arms supplies, ammunition and diesel fuel at a critical moment last year.
While Petkov, who was Bulgaria's prime minister at the start of the war, tried to steer the country on a more Western and pro-NATO trajectory, he had to deal with intense pressure from pro-Kremlin politicians, including among his socialist coalition partners, who are heirs of the old communist party, the German journalists write. Petkov publicly denied the idea that Bulgaria could arm Ukraine.
Petkov and Vassilev, now opposition politicians, broke their silence on the true scale of Bulgaria's role last spring.
While the Bulgarian Socialist Party called Bulgarian arms shipments to Ukraine an "uncrossable red line," Petkov officials used intermediary companies in Bulgaria and abroad to send supplies by air and land through Romania, Hungary, and Poland. "We think that about a third of the ammunition that was needed by the Ukrainian army in the early phase of the war came from Bulgaria," Petkov told Die Welt, as quoted by POLITICO.
The government in Kyiv also confirmed this information. "Kiril Petkov showed integrity and I will always be grateful to him for using all his political skills to find a solution," said Kuleba in an interview with Die Welt. He noted that the situation was simple, some members of the coalition in Bulgaria sided with Russia, and Petkov decided "to be on the right side of history" and help Ukraine defend itself against a much stronger enemy."