A Bulgarian’s perspective on the Russia/Ukraine war

Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) gestures to handshake with Bulgarian President Rumen Radev (left) during their bilateral meeting on Sept. 2021.

After Russia invaded and attacked Ukraine, Bulgarian Defense Minister Stefan Yanev failed to describe the situation as a war, rather as an operation. Yanev, therefore, was outed by Bulgarian Prime minister Kiril Petkov and NATO representative for Bulgaria Dragomir Zakov was put in place of his position.

In Yanev’s stance, after Russia invaded Ukraine, he believes that the term “war” was too quick and loosely used. Therefore, Petklov assumed that Yanev had  a neutral stance towards Ukraine.

Some background of Bulgaria is that the country has been a member of NATO, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, since 2004, which is a military alliance between the United States and Britain, who signed the initial treaty in 1949, along with 28 European countries.

Ukraine and Russia are not a part of NATO. Ukraine wants membership in NATO and Ukraine, being mostly comprised of Russian people who’ve settled in Ukraine over the years, is attacked by Russia because Putin doesn’t want Ukraine to join NATO.

Since Russia attacked and invaded Ukraine, it will be merely impossible for Ukraine to gain membership of NATO because as a part of NATO, the country must be ready with military aid to help and contribute to the other countries of NATO. Yanev additionally expressed that he’s in support of granting EU candidacy to Ukraine. But after Russia ends up destroying Ukraine’s territory, Ukraine won’t be able to repair the damage caused by the military actions for years to come.

Bulgaria and Russia have had past conflicts and considerably the deepest ties with each other from all the countries in the European Union (EU; therefore, tying Bulgaria into this situation. Bulgaria is willing to provide humanitarian aid to Ukraine but they won’t be sending weapons to Ukraine to aid in the actual conflict, contributing to Bulgaria’s neutral state.

Understanding Bulgaria’s deep rooted and complex relations with Russia, it would be a better approach for Bulgaria to not take sides or aid with either country. When Bulgaria, even though with a neutral stance, provides humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, it erupts old issues with Russia. However, if Bulgaria took sides with Russia, then Ukraine and Bulgaria wouldn’t be able to build much of a relationship afterwards, especially if Ukraine is successful and is able to gain membership to NATO. In that situation, Bulgaria and Ukraine would be at conflict amongst each other.