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Putin Betrayed by Close Ally Who Helped Out Ukraine Behind His Back

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Bulgaria’s former government covertly offered assistance to Kyiv in the initial stages of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to new reports.

The Balkan nation, geographically separated from Ukraine by Romania, is both an EU and NATO member state, but has also historically maintained closer ties to Moscow than many of its neighbors.

Yet the government based in Sofia in the spring of 2022 “became one of the largest exporters of diesel to Ukraine and at times covered 40 percent of Ukraine’s needs,” former Bulgarian finance minister Assen Vassilev told German newspaper Die Welt.

“We estimate that about a third of the ammunition needed by the Ukrainian army in the early phase of the war came from Bulgaria,” former prime minister Kiril Petkov told the publication.

The claims were corroborated by Kyiv, with Ukraine’s foreign minister recounting how the Ukrainian armed forces were struggling to maintain ammunition supplies in the spring.

“We knew that Bulgarian warehouses had large quantities of the ammunition needed so President [Volodymyr] Zelensky sent me to obtain the necessary material,” Dmytro Kuleba told the German daily.

Kuleba said the move showed Petkov’s “integrity,” before adding he would “always be grateful to him for using all his political skill to find a solution” to the fuel and ammunition shortages.

He commented he believed the then-government in Sofia “decided to be on the right side of history, and help us defend ourselves against a much stronger enemy”.

The foreign minister then said Petkov had promised to do “everything in his power” to aid Kyiv, although the Bulgarian leader had conceded it was “not easy” to accomplish.

The deliveries of supplies largely came via intermediaries authorized by the government, Petkov told Die Welt. This was then echoed by Kuleba.

Just days after the Russian invasion began on February 24, 2022, Petkov sacked defense minister Stefan Yanev after he opted to use Moscow’s description of the “special military operation,” rather than the term “war.”

“My defence minister cannot use the word operation instead of the word war. You cannot call it an operation when thousands of soldiers from the one and the other side are already killed,” the former prime minister said in a televised statement, according to Reuters.

“The Bulgarian interest is not in bending our heads down. When we see something we do not agree with, something so obvious, we cannot keep quiet,” he continued.

A poll released in April 2022 showed a sharp dip in support for Russian President Vladimir Putin in the small Balkan state, seeing his popularity halve compared to research carried out the previous year.

In May, Bulgaria’s parliament voted to approve sending technical support to Ukraine’s armed forces but stopped short of sending military aid directly to Kyiv.

The following month, Petkov said Sofia had “done enough” to support the war effort.

“We’ve supported the incoming refugees, we have sent all kinds of humanitarian aid, we have also been involved with repairing Ukraine’s heavy weapons and we’re in line with all sanctions against Russia,” he told local media in June.

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