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Bulgaria's defense committee backs air defenses, F-16 training for Ukraine

by Martin Fornusek December 8, 2023 9:10 AM 2 min read
Bulgarian S-300 launcher during a parade in Bulgaria on May 7, 2009. (Illustrative purposes only). (Wikipedia/Garabed)
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The Bulgarian parliament's defense committee approved on Dec. 7 the provision of older, faulty air defenses to Ukraine, as well as assistance with F-16 training, the Bulgarian National Radio reported.

Air defense capabilities are crucial for Ukraine as the winter is setting in. Russia is expected to mirror its strategy from last year by targeting the country's energy infrastructure on a massive scale.

Representatives of three political parties (including the ruling GERB and PP-DB) proposed to provide Ukraine with obsolete, portable air defense systems and anti-aircraft missiles of various types.

According to the Bulgarian news site Novinite, the air defense missiles could include Soviet-made S-300s.

The defense committee further approved training for Ukrainian pilots on F-16 aircraft, including the use of Bulgarian air space.

Bulgaria’s Soviet stockpiles and large defense industry may be key to Ukraine’s success
Bulgaria has had to walk a fine line, trying to covertly support Ukraine without provoking Russia. The Balkan state has been historically influenced by Moscow. Opinions on Ukraine are split among its 6.7 million people, many of whom buy into Kremlin propaganda. The new coalition government elected…

Sofia should also train up to four infantry or mechanized companies of a total number of 160 Ukrainian soldiers per year.

The decision now moves for deliberations to the plenary hall with the support of government-aligned lawmakers.

If adopted, the Bulgarian government will be tasked to negotiate with NATO partners the deployment of air defenses and coastal anti-ship systems in Bulgaria to strengthen domestic defense capabilities.

By January or February, the Defense Ministry should prepare a list of equipment that could be shipped to Kyiv.

Bulgaria has already provided Ukraine with various military assistance as the current government under Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov took a decisively pro-Ukrainian stance.

This puts Denkov's coalition at odds with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, who has repeatedly criticized military aid for Kyiv.

The president recently vetoed the provision of 100 armored vehicles to Ukraine, but the prime minister voiced confidence that the parliament would be able to override the veto.

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