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Bulgaria secretly saved Ukraine with weapons

Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev, authors of the “Bulgarian proposal”, which started the European sanctions against Russia

Thanks to its fragmented domestic politics and the pro-Russian leanings of much of its elite, Sofia was at pains during the invasion to emphasize that it was not arming Ukraine. However, this was a smokescreen, according to an investigation by the German daily Die Welt.

“When the then Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov arrived on a visit to Kyiv on April 28 of last year, one could ask himself what he was doing there,” the newspaper’s article begins.

Thanks to exclusive interviews with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, former Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and his Finance Minister Asen Vassilev, Die Welt paints a picture of how Bulgaria intervened in the war and used intermediaries to secure vital arms supplies to Kyiv , ammunition and diesel fuel at a critical moment in the fighting last year.

Petkov and Vasilev, now opposition politicians seeking a path back to power in the expected upcoming elections, broke their silence on the true extent of Bulgaria’s role last spring.

“We think that about a third of the ammunition needed by the Ukrainian army in the early phase of the war came from Bulgaria,” Petkov told WELT.

The journalists recall that Zelensky met with Petkov and both of them announced to the media an extremely strange and insignificant-sounding agreement – Bulgaria will repair damaged Ukrainian tanks. At that very moment, it was officially known that only Bulgaria and Hungary among the NATO countries refused to supply arms to Ukraine.

In fact, the newspaper revealed, at that very moment Bulgaria had already launched a secret process for significant military aid to Ukraine. While the Socialist Party in Sofia called Bulgarian arms deliveries to Ukrainian forces a “red line,” Petkov’s officials avoided intergovernmental transactions and used intermediary companies in Bulgaria and abroad to open air and land delivery routes through Romania, Hungary, and Poland . According to Die Welt’s calculations, in this way Bulgaria covers one third of the country’s needs, and between April and August provides 40% of the diesel for the army. Which is curious considering the fact that the only refinery that Bulgaria has was Russian property.

The Ukrainian government confirmed our information in this article, the newspaper also wrote.

“We knew that there were large quantities of the necessary ammunition in the Bulgarian warehouses, so President Zelensky sent me to procure the necessary material,” said Kuleba.

“It was a matter of ‘life and death’ at the time, Kuleba explained, because otherwise the Russians would have occupied more villages and towns, ‘killed, tortured and raped’ more Ukrainians.

Petkov is already active on February 25, 2022, writes “Di Welt”. The day after Russia’s attack, there is a European Council in Brussels, and as each prime minister makes an address, the meeting drags on late into the night. Kiril Petkov goes around each of the leaders and looks for a conversation.

He explains that Zelensky will not survive 24 hours without help. It proposes to exclude Russia from the SWIFT system and to freeze the European Bank’s bank loans to the Russian Central Bank. Talk to Macron, to Scholz – most leaders are skeptical. In the end, however, the European Commission accepted his proposal and it was implemented later.

In parallel, Asen Vassilev participated in the meeting of EU finance ministers in Paris. There, too, the ministers are still quite hesitant, most still unable to grasp the news of the attack. Vassilev comes out and gives a speech. But not about economics and finance, but explaining to his colleagues what the “denazification of Ukraine” means for Putin.

“This is what the Russians did in Bulgaria after the Second World War, they killed thousands of dissidents, professors and priests,” Vassilev says. He also called for immediate decisions, and participants in the meeting confirmed to VELT that the Bulgarian minister had changed the mood of the assembled delegates.

Two days later, Brussels started with the economic sanctions. In European circles, they are called the “Bulgarian proposal”. The reason – Kiril Petkov and Asen Vasilev are going around the European leaders insisting that Russia be punished economically. As “Di Welt” sources tell about a meeting of EU finance ministers in Paris, where Asen Vassilev managed to convince his colleagues.

During Dmytro Kuleba’s visit to Sofia on April 10 last year, the war was not going well for Ukraine – it had managed to stop the Russians in the Kiev region, but its weapons and ammunition had run out, and the West had not yet been able to supply it with new ones. Ukraine needs Soviet-made weapons and knows that Bulgaria’s warehouses are full.

Zelensky is sending his minister to Sofia. In front of the public in our country, Kuleba thanked Bulgaria for accepting refugees, but did not mention anything about weapons. However, completely different conversations are taking place behind closed doors, the newspaper writes. Kuleba explains to his hosts that everything is a matter of life and death.

Petkov solves the task by saying that his government has authorized intermediaries to export not directly to Ukraine, but to intermediary companies abroad. “Our private military industry is producing at full speed,” says Petkov.

Private arms manufacturers are working at full steam. Planes filled to the brim with ammunition take off from Bulgaria to Poland. They land at Rzesz Airport, 70 km from the Ukrainian border. This airport is heavily guarded by NATO and is the most important for Ukraine. Bulgaria provides corridors for weapons and ammunition by land through Romania and Hungary.

About a third of the necessary ammunition at this moment is precisely Bulgarian, says Petkov. Kuleba confirms his data. Shipping paid by US and UK.

Koleba emphasized that it is not a question of the Bulgarian government providing direct military aid to Ukraine, “but rather of Ukrainian companies and companies from NATO countries getting the opportunity to supply what they need from Bulgarian suppliers.”

It became problematic in June, when the head of Kintex, Alexander Mihailov, was removed from his post and exported trade data with the aim of overthrowing the Petkov government. He then reported exports worth 2 billion euros.

At the same time, the Bulgarian Lukoil refinery also supplies diesel for the Ukrainian army.

Vassilev recalls a meeting of the World Bank in Washington in the spring. There, he says, a Ukrainian official told him that Kyiv’s troops were running out of fuel. Bulgaria has a refinery near Burgas on the Black Sea, which is operated by a subsidiary of the Russian group Lukoil and supplied by oil tankers from Russia. Vassilev proposed that it should export its excess oil, and his proposal was immediately accepted. About 50% of the production covers the needs of Bulgaria, the rest goes directly to Ukraine. Here, too, diesel is exported through intermediaries. Kyiv also confirms this information.

Diesel is transported by trucks and also transferred to trains. At the same time, Bulgaria is still completely dependent on Russian gas and oil, and this is the reason why it did not join the sanctions affecting the export of Russian oil.

With the secret supply lines to Ukraine, Petkov is taking a big risk.

Polls in Bulgaria have shown that 70 percent of citizens are worried about being drawn into the war and are therefore against too much support for Ukraine.

Russia understands about the help that Bulgaria provides to Ukraine. Back in April, her first response was a real hacking war against the country. Hacking attacks on electricity producers. They block the payment of pensions. In response, Petkov expelled 70 diplomats from the embassy in Sofia on charges of espionage.

This is also the reason why Russia stopped gas supplies to Bulgaria regardless of negotiations and agreements. However, Petkov’s cabinet managed to find liquefied gas from the USA within hours, in the following weeks it connected the country with Greece and negotiated gas from Azerbaijan. Thus, the Bulgarians do not feel a lack of gas despite the suspension of supplies from Russia, “Di Welt” also writes.

“I made it clear during the talks that the tankers are a political signal to all of Europe that there are always ways to get out of dependence on Russia,” Petkov said.

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