The Ukrainian military is back on track to receive a shipment of 100 armored personnel vehicles from Bulgaria to assist in its fight against Russia’s invasion after the Bulgarian parliament voted to override a presidential veto that blocked the deal earlier this week.
The Bulgarian Interior Ministry reached an agreement with Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense earlier this year to transport decommissioned armored vehicles to Kyiv that were no longer in use by Sofia’s government. The agreement was ratified by the Bulgarian National Assembly later that same month, but Bulgarian President Rumen Radev stepped in on Monday to veto the deal, raising concerns that the lawmakers who agreed to transport the vehicles were not “familiar” enough with the issue at hand.
On Friday, Sofia’s parliament overrode Radev’s veto in a 162-55 vote, according to the Bulgarian news agency BTA. Supporters of the agreement reiterated during a debate on the measure that Sofia’s Interior Ministry has no use for the armored vehicles in question, adding that they are better put to use to protect Ukraine’s borders.
“Interior Ministry experts confirm that these vehicles have become redundant in Bulgaria,” said Bulgarian lawmaker Valentin Radev, as per BTA’s report. “Bulgaria protects its national security better by helping Ukraine.”
Critics of the proposal, however, echoed Radev’s concern that the armored vehicles are needed to protect Bulgaria’s interests. National Assembly member Kostadin Kostadinov went as far as to say that it “is very humiliating” for Sofia’s government “that in addition to giving equipment to Ukraine free of charge, we are also providing the transport for it,” BTA reported.
Bulgaria, a member of the NATO alliance and the European Union, has lagged behind many of its allies in supporting Ukraine publicly. Critics of Radev have accused him of being partial to Russian President Vladimir Putin, and pro-Kremlin political parties, who hold a minority in Sofia’s National Assembly, have attempted to block aid to Ukraine before.
In Friday’s vote, those who agreed with Radev’s veto of the transfer of armored vehicles were made up of members of the far-right Revival Party, the populist party There is Such a People, and the Bulgaria Socialist Party.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked the Bulgarian parliament for overriding Radev’s veto in a post to X, formerly Twitter, on Friday, writing that additional military aid strengthens “our Europe and the defense of freedom.”
Sofia’s agreement to send the armored vehicles comes at a time when foreign military support for Kyiv has started to waver, potentially spelling trouble for Zelensky’s ability to hold off Russia’s advances as the winter months settle in. According to a study released Thursday by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the amount of newly committed military aid for Kyiv dropped by 87 percent between August and October when compared to support packages delivered in 2022 during that same time frame.
Still, for the time being, Western support continues to flow to Ukraine. Germany issued its latest military package for Kyiv on Friday, which includes vehicles, drones, artillery shells and other equipment.
The Pentagon also announced on Wednesday that it was sending an additional $175 million in military aid to Ukraine, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that unless Congress approves additional funding, “This will be one of the last security assistance packages we can provide to Ukraine,” according to a report from the Associated Press.
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