Bulgaria has agreed to provide the Ukrainian army with 100 armoured personnel carriers, marking a turnaround in the Nato member’s policy on sending military equipment to Kyiv following the appointment of a new, pro-Western government.
Direct arms supplies were rejected by previous interim governments, appointed by President Rumen Radev.
Radev is sympathetic to Russia and recently said that Ukraine was to be blamed for the war and that supplying arms to Ukraine only prolongs the conflict.
However, the parliament in Sofia has approved the government’s proposal to make the first shipment of heavy military equipment to Ukraine since the beginning of the war by 148 votes to 52.
The Parliament’s decision said: “This equipment is no longer necessary for the needs of Bulgaria, and it can be of serious support to Ukraine in its battle to preserve the country’s independence and territorial integrity after the unjustified and unprovoked Russian aggression.”
The Soviet-made armoured vehicles were delivered in the 1980s to Bulgaria, which was an ally of the Soviet Union in the Warsaw Pact.
Bulgaria, which joined Nato in 2004, still maintains stocks of Soviet-designed weapons and has numerous factories making ammunition for them.
Although Parliament approved the provision of military aid to Ukraine in principle at the end of last year, it left the decision about the parameters of such aid to the executive, and amid political instability in Bulgaria over the past months, previous administrations had rejected the idea.
‘Fighting for freedom’
But the new government, appointed in June, has now moved to send the armoured vehicles to Ukraine along with armaments and spare parts.
Liberal lawmaker Ivaylo Mirchev said: “We must give armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine because Ukrainians are fighting not only for their freedom but also for ours.”
The decision sparked criticism from the Socialist party and pro-Moscow nationalists from the Revival party, who voted against it.
Kristian Vigenin, the deputy speaker of the National Assembly and of the Socialist Party, said: “I don’t think we can help Ukraine with military decisions and sending military equipment, but we can help it as a peace mediator, as a country that has specific relations with both sides.”
By Associated Press Reporters