Bulgaria’s main ruling alliance has responded to a Russian gas cutoff by abandoning the hesitancy that has kept that Black Sea state from supplying military aid to Ukraine, capping off two days of political messaging with visiting Prime Minister Kiril Petkov declaring outside the Ukrainian capital that it would be “inhuman to remain uninvolved” as Russia’s invasion unfolds.
After Gazprom suspended natural gas supplies to Bulgaria and Poland amid escalating fallout from the 8-week-old war, Petkov and his We Continue The Change alliance vowed on April 27 that all 67 of its lawmakers will back military assistance for Kyiv in a vote expected early next month.
The provision of such aid would align Sofia more closely with most of its NATO allies — Hungary aside.
But it will also deepen a rift over Ukraine and Russia with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev, a retired general and air force commander who has suggested that arming either side merely prolongs the fighting.
“The rhetoric we have been hearing for several months is ‘Don’t give military aid to Ukraine so that peace comes sooner,'” Petkov said during a quickly organized visit to Kyiv and its environs on April 28 to demonstrate support for Ukraine’s defenders. “If this is the price of peace, if the Russian state continues to [attack] and no one has the opportunity to defend itself, then do we want this peace?”
Petkov had warned alongside a senior party colleague in Sofia a day earlier against siding with “aggressor” Russia instead of Kyiv and said “internal circles” in Bulgaria had been fomenting division since the eight-week-old Ukraine war began.
Bulgaria is a member of the European Union and NATO.