Defence minister says no decision to deploy NATO troops in Bulgaria

There is no decision of the Bulgarian government to gather or deploy troops of NATO or any other country in the country, Defence Minister Stefan Yanev said [EPA-EFE/VASSIL DONEV]

The government has not decided on gathering or deploying forces of NATO or any other country in Bulgaria, Defence Minister Stefan Yanev said during his hearing in parliament’s defence committee on Tuesday. Let’s reduce the tensions, stop reading the foreign press, and end speculation, he added.

The comment was provoked by media reports that NATO allies were sending ships and fighter jets to bolster Eastern Europe’s defences at a time when tensions over Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine were rising.

“Neither Russia nor any other country is planning to invade Bulgaria, and we do not expect an invasion of Bulgarian territory. We are talking about measures that are to demonstrate the unity of NATO and to seek and give above all a chance for diplomacy,” Yanev said.

On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused the US and NATO of trying to escalate tensions through “information hysteria” and that Moscow had no plans to attack Ukraine.

Yanev had a meeting with the US Ambassador in Sofia on Ukraine and other issues.

At the end of 2021 after German newspaper Der Spiegel referred to unofficial information that the highest-ranking NATO general Ted Walters had proposed the Alliance establish a military presence in Bulgaria and Romania because Russian troops were being deployed near the Ukrainian border, Yanev commented that there is no need to deploy additional NATO troops because this could increase tensions in the region.

Prime Minister Kiril Petkov reacted immediately by saying the minister had only expressed his personal position. The PM added that Bulgaria will continue to be an active EU and NATO member and that these kinds of decisions will be coordinated.

Petkov gathered the government’s Security Council on Tuesday. The participants in the meeting presented to him an analysis of the geopolitical situation and possible measures discussed within NATO to demonstrate solidarity on its southeastern flank. The Security Council will prepare an action plan for different scenarios.

Petkov instructed Yanev to submit to the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday a draft of the national position and measures to strengthen Bulgaria’s security system, combat capability of the Bulgarian army, and technical support.

Ahead of the Security Council session, which was closed to the media, Petkov commented that it was clear that tensions were rising, but “it does not sound like war”.

“We want de-escalation. And we will be a constructive partner and ally in NATO and the EU, so that we are in line with our allies, but have a clear idea that the decisions that are made are based entirely on the Bulgarian security services, the Bulgarian ministers and of the Council of Ministers,” Petkov added.

(Antonia Kotseva, Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe