Bulgaria opposes the “escalation of military measures” before all diplomatic means are used to resolve tensions along the Russian-Ukrainian border. This was stated by the Minister of Defense Stefan Yanev.
“We consider it counterproductive at this stage to escalate military measures on the Alliance’s eastern flank before all other diplomatic means are used to de-escalate tensions on Ukraine’s borders with the Russian Federation,” Yanev said in response to a parliamentary question on the deployment of additional military units on the territory of Bulgaria and the implementation of allied commitments within the plans for “enhanced front presence” on the eastern flank of the Alliance.
Yanev emphasizes that the political and military leadership of the Ministry of Defense monitors the development of the situation, using all channels of information in union and national format. All necessary activities for analysis and assessment of the situation are performed. We take an active part in consultations at all levels in NATO
“If necessary, caused by a change in the environment and escalation of the situation, the Ministry of Defense will propose to the Council of Ministers options for decision-making by the competent Bulgarian authorities, including the National Assembly,” said the Minister of Defense.
When asked what is the official position of the Ministry of Defense as an element of the general policy of the Council of Ministers on the immediate risks to Bulgaria arising from Russia’s aggressive actions in the region, Stefan Yanev answered the following:
“I should emphasize that at the moment there is no national position adopted by the Council of Ministers, as at the moment the options for NATO’s response to the growing tension on the borders of Ukraine with Russia are being discussed at the military-technical level. A possible final union decision will require a formal position, which will be in line with the results of this process.”
The Ministry of Defense examines the disturbed balance of forces in the Black Sea, the increased military presence and military exercises on Russia’s border with Ukraine, the ongoing militarization of the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula and Russia, and the violation of freedom of navigation in the Kerch Strait and Azov sea region as serious factors that worsen the security environment.
Stefan Yanev recalls that at the NATO summit in Wales in 2014, the following measures were adopted in connection with the growing Russian threat: measures to increase security (Assurance Measures) and measures to adapt to the Alliance (Adaptation Measures), which in fact define the actions of the Alliance. They are adapted to the respective regions and threats, aiming to ensure the security of all allies along the entire eastern flank.
Four multinational battalions have been deployed in Poland and the Baltic States as part of the “enhanced front presence“. The situation in our region is a little different.
In the Black Sea region, taking into account the geographical circumstances and national perceptions of the Allies of the imminent danger of possible direct aggressive military action by Russia, a package of measures for “adapted front presence” in the region was adopted, focusing mainly on the naval and air components with elements of the ground component of the forces. The deterrent effect of these measures is based mainly on creating conditions for a more visible NATO presence in the Black Sea region and increasing the capacity and interoperability of Allies by conducting exercises involving Allied forces,” said Stefan Yanev.
According to him, Bulgaria is actively involved in the implementation of the package of seven main measures for “adapted front presence” in the Black Sea. These include: increasing the intensity of joint training of our armed forces with other allies; our participation with staff officers and affiliated units at the Headquarters of the Multinational Brigade “Southeast” in Craiova; our active contribution to Allied air training and creating conditions for strengthening the Air Policing mission, the signing of a Protocol amending the agreement between the Government of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Government of Romania on cross-border Air Policing operations; creating conditions for the reception of Allied units of the Naval Patrol Aviation using military airports in the building, national participation in joint exercises within the optimized schedule of NATO Permanent Naval Forces (SNF) operations for deployment in the Black Sea and last but not least, the construction and offers for part of the NATO Force Structure of the Regional Naval Coordination Center in Varna.