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Bulgarian Delegation To Visit Kyiv In Effort To Break Coalition Deadlock Over Arms Deliveries

By RFE/RL's Bulgarian Service April 27, 2022

Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov will lead a delegation to Kyiv this week amid a dispute within his coalition government over providing military aid to Ukraine.

Petkov and representatives of three of the four parties in the ruling coalition will leave for Poland on April 27 and go on to Kyiv the next day, lawmaker Stanislav Balabanov of the There Is Such A People party said after a coalition council meeting on April 26.

The main purpose of the visit, according to Petkov, is to see the needs of the people of Kyiv. The delegation also will deliver promised helmets and body armor.

Petkov, who favors giving military aid, invited each of his coalition partners to send a representative with him in a bid to overcome the pro-Russia Bulgarian Socialist Party's opposition to providing the aid.

Balabanov, who will represent There Is Such A People in the delegation, told reporters the group will meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during the visit.

The other politicians who will travel in the delegation are Kaloyan Ikonomov from We Continue The Change party, who has not taken a stand on the delivery of military aid to Ukraine, and Atanas Atanasov from Democratic Bulgaria.

The Socialists declined to send a representative and have threatened to pull out of the cabinet over the weapons issue. Socialist leader Kornelia Ninova told BNT television that the visit was "pointless" and "would hardly change our position" against arms donations.

Bulgaria thus far has turned down Ukraine's requests for direct military aid, making it one of the last holdouts among EU members.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made a three-day visit to Sofia last week to urge the country to provide military support.

The country is a big manufacturer of Soviet-era ammunition, anti-tank missiles, and light arms.

The coalition will debate the question again after the delegation's return from Kyiv, Balabanov said. The details are to be clarified before the proposal comes up in the National Assembly next week.

With reporting by AFP

Source: https://www.rferl.org/a/bulgaria-military- aid-ukraine/31823010.html

Copyright (c) 2022. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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