Russia “violated all international norms” and “destroys the international security architecture”said Tagarev.
“First, it is the moral obligation to help the victim of aggression. But it is also in our strategic interest for Ukraine to contain Russian aggression and succeed in restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity. This is key for the stability in Europe – especially for Eastern Europe and the Black Sea region,” the defense minister added.
He stated that the President Rumen Radev is pro-Russian.
“It will be difficult to distinguish ourselves from Russia, whose propaganda is influential in Bulgarian politics and society. The current president, Rumen Radev, is pro-Russian,” Tagarev added. The defense minister noted that there are politicians who oppose the provision of arms to Ukraine, claiming that they are trying to achieve peace faster, although this argument is untenable. The Kremlin’s narrative is received quite favorably by a significant portion of the population, but that is changing. More and more Bulgarians are supporting Ukraine,” Tagarev also said.
The Bulgarian Minister of Defense stated that President Radev’s remarks will not affect the support from Bulgaria, which is a parliamentary republic.
“Everything is in our hands – the cabinet, and now the cabinet differs significantly from the position of the president,” Tagarev said, adding that the government “actually” does not discuss with President Radev the military aid it sends to Ukraine.
Danger in the Black Sea
Since leaving the Black Sea Grain Initiative agreement in July, Russia has used naval exercises to block Ukrainian grain exports. With Russia’s ongoing exercises nearby, part of the economic zone remains partially blocked.
“In effect, Russia is blocking traffic, telling us ‘it’s dangerous, there’s shooting here, so don’t cross,'” Tagarev said. “This is established practice if it lasts a few days, maximum. But Russia has been closing this area of the Black Sea for three months now, which is clearly unacceptable.”
Despite the provocations, Tagarev believes that “this is not yet a direct threat to territorial integrity or an opportunity for aggression against a NATO member”, but stressed that Russia’s actions entail various risks.
“These are all risks that can lead to casualties and we have to deal with it – these are significant risks,” Tagarev said. “We are not so worried that Russia would dare to attack a NATO ally, but we are concerned that some of those risks could materialize in either material damage or casualties.”
In October, the Turkish Ministry of Defense announced a tripartite cooperation with Bulgaria and Romania to remove mines found in the economic zones of the three countries.
Tagarev stated that the aim is to defuse the mines “systematically and more strictly within the framework of the united forces of the three countries”.
“We want to make shipping safer, but not to give a reason for the escalation of the conflict in the Black Sea,” the defense minister said, adding that this would still be beneficial for Ukraine’s exports.