SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria has agreed to supply Ukraine’s military with around 100 armored personnel carriers, marking a reversal in its policy of sending military equipment to the country to aid in the battle for Kiev against the Russian invasion.
The parliament of Sofia approved Friday evening by 148 votes against 52 the proposal of the government to carry out the first delivery of heavy military equipment to Ukraine since the beginning of the war.
“This equipment is no longer necessary for the needs of Bulgaria, and it can give serious support to Ukraine in its battle to preserve the independence and territorial integrity of the country after the unjustified and unprovoked Russian aggression”, reads the decision of the Parliament.
The Soviet-made armored vehicles were delivered in the 1980s to Bulgaria, then an ally of the Soviet Union in the Warsaw Pact.
Bulgaria, which joined NATO in 2004, still retains stockpiles of Soviet-designed weapons and has many factories that manufacture ammunition for them.
Although parliament approved in principle late last year the provision of military aid to Ukraine, it left the decision on the parameters of such aid to the executive branch.
Direct arms deliveries to Kyiv have been rejected by previous caretaker governments appointed by President Rumen Radev. He is sympathetic to Russia and has recently said that kyiv was responsible for the war and that supplying arms to Ukraine only prolongs the conflict.
But the new pro-Western government has now decided to send the armored vehicles to Ukraine with armaments and spare parts.
“We must give armored personnel carriers to Ukraine because Ukrainians are fighting not only for their freedom but also for ours,” said liberal lawmaker Ivaylo Mirchev.
The decision drew criticism from the Socialist Party and pro-Moscow nationalists from the Revival Party who voted against it.
“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,” National Assembly and Socialist Party Deputy Speaker Kristian Vigenin said on Saturday.
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