Russia Has Been Blocking Large Part of Bulgaria’s Exclusive Economic Zone for Two Months – Defence Minister

Russia has been blocking a large part of Bulgaria’s exclusive economic zone in the Black Sea for two months now, Defence Minister Todor Tagarev told reporters on Wednesday. Russia has announced it will continue holding exercises in Bulgaria’s economic zone until the end of September, which Bulgaria considers provocation actions towards its security and economic interests.

He added that a broad specter of possible actions – individually and with Bulgaria’s allies – is being consider in response to Russia’s provocation. Tagarev gave as an example Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov’s intention to accelerate the acquisition of coastal anti-ship missile systems.

In relation to the deployment of a NATO multinational battlegroup in Bulgaria, Tagarev said that a 2022 NATO Summit adopted a decision to deploy battlegroups along the Alliance’s Eastern Flank which, when fully staffed, number around 5,000 service persons. In his words, it is currently being discussed to have less than 50% of that number in Bulgaria and, if necessary, to quickly increase it so that the battlegroup can carry out its deterrence and defence functions. The battlegroup could number up to some 1,500 service persons in peaceful times. A final decision is yet to be taken on where the battlegroup will be deployed.

Tagarev described as interesting the idea to merge Bulgaria’s civil and military intelligence, specifying that an analysis should be made of the effectiveness and expenditures of the different options available.