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Friday, December 8, 2023

Bulgarian parliament again approves additional military aid to Ukraine

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Published Dec 08, 2023  •  1 minute read

SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — Bulgaria’s parliament on Friday approved the provision of additional military aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.

A majority of 147 lawmakers in the 240-seat chamber voted in favor of supplying Ukraine with portable anti-aircraft missile systems and surface-to-air missiles of various types intended to bolster Ukraine’s air defense capabilities, the state-run BTA news agency reported.

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Military experts said the missiles, which are either defective or redundant, cannot be repaired in Bulgaria, but Ukraine has the needed facilities to fix them or use them for spare parts.

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Some 55 lawmakers from pro-Russian groups in parliament voted against sending the aid, underscoring the divisions in the Balkan country over helping Ukraine counter Russia’s invasion.

Bulgaria, once a member of the now-defunct Warsaw pact, joined NATO in 2004, but still maintains stocks of Soviet-designed weapons.

In addition, parliament on Friday approved the use of Bulgarian airspace for training of Ukrainian F-16 pilots and allowed up to four rotating infantry or mechanized Ukrainian army units of up to 160 people per year to transit or stay in Bulgaria for training.

In a separate vote, lawmakers on Friday overrode a veto by the country’s pro-Russian president on providing Ukraine with 100 Soviet-era armored personnel carriers and available armament, as well as spare parts, to help the war-torn country boost its defensive capabilities.

President Rumen Radev has repeatedly opposed Bulgaria’s military aid for Ukraine, claiming that sending Soviet-era equipment to Ukraine would diminish Bulgaria’s own defense capability and “would risk involving Bulgaria in the war.”

Bulgarian lawmakers have in the past voted in favor of aiding Ukraine’s military several times. In September, they approved supplying Ukraine with defective surface-to-air missiles for the Russian-made S-300 air defense system and small-caliber automatic weapon ammunition discarded by the Interior Ministry.

The votes have marking a turnaround in Bulgaria’s policy on sending military equipment to Kyiv following the appointment of a new, pro-Western government.

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For more coverage of the war in Ukraine, visit: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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