Bulgaria's news on Thursday was dominated by President Rumen Radev's visit to Brussels, where he participated in NATO's high-level meeting. There he reiterated Sofia's position of not sending any weapons to Ukraine, citing Bulgaria's ill-equipped army as a reason. He also added that Sofia would seek additional support to maintain its own air force until the F-16 fighter jets ordered from the US arrive.
NATO announces 4 new battlegroups to strengthen its Eastern flank, including in Bulgaria
In response to Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, NATO leaders announced they will strengthen their Eastern flank with four joint battlegroups, which will be deployed in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, respectively. There is still no information about the manpower and the type of forces to be deployed, but judging from the already existing battlegroups in the Baltic countries and Poland, they would likely have around 1,000 troops and will be led by one of the larger Western militaries.
Prosecution launches investigation against Finance Minister Assen Vassilev
After first denying information coming from Internal Minister Boyko Rashkov on Tuesday, the State Prosecution confirmed on Thursday that it is indeed investigating Mr Vassilev for "breach of his official duties". The case has been launched over a signal filed by the owner of Insa Oil Georgi Samuilov, who claims the minister has allegedly damaged the business interests of several gas station chains through his claims made on 13 March that the overnight spike in fuel prices was linked to price speculation on behalf of several chains linked to GERB.
Bulgaria withdraws Moscow envoy "for consultations," expects Kremlin to reciprocate
Amidst the backdrop of Russian ambassador to Sofia Eleonora Mitrofanova's series of aggressive statements attacking Bulgaria's official authorities and their policy vis-a-vis the Ukraine crisis, Prime Minister Kiril Petkov announced Sofia is withdrawing its envoy to Moscow for consultations and expects Moscow to reciprocate. In one of the Russian Embassy's most recent social media posts, Ms Mitrofanova called the Prime Minister "a bureaucrat who shouldn't criticize the ambassador of the Russian federation".