On Wednesday, just before the Bulgarian Parliament finally opened the debate on whether Sofia should send Kyiv weapons, a letter of salvation arrived at the National Assembly. Sent by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, it called for continued economic and humanitarian aid for the country, besieged by Russia - but omitted earlier demands for direct military aid. This letter - likely arranged during last week's visit of Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to Ukraine - practically allowed all parties from the ruling coalition to save face before their voters, while in effect keeping the status quo.
Cabinet survives Ukraine military aid vote by circumventing explicit arms supplies
MPs of all parties, except openly pro-Russian Vazrazhdane, backed WCC's compromise proposal allowing the cabinet to provide "military-technical assistance" to the beleaguered nation with 185 votes "in favor" and 15 "against." The motion fell short of explicitly giving the cabinet the mandate to dispatch arms or munitions to Ukraine, as per the proposals of GERB and Democratic Bulgaria, which were both voted down. The vote was immediately interpreted by minor coalition partner BSP as a "elimination of the possibility to send arms to Ukraine," while the GERB opposition called it meaningless. In any case, it appears that the coalition has found a way to survive this divisive issue - at least for now.
Bulgaria will demand a "temporary exception" from EU's embargo over Russian oil: Vassilev
"In theory, Bulgaria can do without Russian petrol imports, but this would make fuel prices significantly more expensive. Therefore, if the European Commission allows exemptions [from the oil embargo], we will also take advantage of our right to ask for such an exemption," Finance Minister Assen Vassilev told Capital weekly in an interview, published on Wednesday.
The comment came just as the European Commission proposed to the European Parliament that all EU countries should halt Russian oil deliveries from November onwards. Hungary and Slovakia are to receive exemption until the end of 2023. The plan awaits approval from leaders of member states, who are likely to gather in Brussels next week.
Chaira pumped hydroelectric energy storage shuts down completely
The last remaining working generator of the Chaira pumped hydroelectric energy storage plant (PHES) went out of order a week ago, which means that Bulgaria has lost this cornerstone energy capacity completely, according to Capital Weekly information from three independent sources.
The news comes just a month after one of the newly refurbished turbines of the largest pumped-storage hydroelectric power plant in Southeastern Europe was destroyed during testing. The capacity, which can generate 864 mW of electricity per hour or almost as much as one unit of Kozloduy NPP, will remain offline indefinitely, creating both economic losses and a risk for floods of the Belmeken reservoir in the middle of the snow melting season.