Bulgarian APCs Designated For Ukraine Are Still Not Transported - Why?!

Defense | February 19, 2024, Monday // 13:20|  views

Bulgarian APCs intended for Ukraine

As Bulgaria prepares for a cabinet rotation, Defense Minister Todor Tagarev finds himself under mounting criticism for delays in providing crucial military aid to Ukraine. Within political circles, particularly among members of the "We Continue the Change-Democratic Bulgaria" (WCC-DB) party, discontent brews over the perceived inefficiency and sluggishness of the defense ministry in fulfilling its commitments.

The frustration came to a head following the protracted delay in transporting promised armored personnel carriers (APCs) to Ukraine. Ivaylo Mirchev, an MP from WCC-DB, expressed dismay, questioning the ministry's readiness in the face of potential emergencies. "If tomorrow there is a landing of Russian troops in Varna and we have to transport 100 armored personnel carriers, will we need three months?" Mirchev's pointed remarks underscored concerns over the apparent inability of Bulgarian authorities to swiftly mobilize resources and execute essential tasks.

The crux of the issue lies in the prolonged delay of delivering 118 APCs, pledged half a year ago, to Ukraine. Despite assurances and initial indications of progress, including publicized loading of the machines, the vehicles have yet to depart for their intended destination. This delay has drawn sharp criticism, particularly as the situation in Ukraine remains dire amid ongoing conflict with Russia.

Logistical challenges and bureaucratic hurdles have further complicated matters. Initially, a presidential veto stalled the transfer of APCs from the Ministry of Interior to the Ministry of Defense, delaying the aid process. While this obstacle was eventually overcome, logistical issues persisted, including securing funding for transportation. However, recent developments indicate that funding has been secured through the British government, providing a potential breakthrough in the aid delivery process:

First, it turned out that in order for the "deal" to be concluded, it must be between the Bulgarian Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, so that the formal process of transferring the ownership of the machines from the Ministry of Interior to our Ministry of Defense is not required. In practice, there was no obstacle for the Ministry of Defense, which already has an agreement with the Ukrainian side, to be the "principal", but they justified themselves with the complexity of the transfer from one ministry to the other. Otherwise, at the end of August, Minister Tagarev promised: "We will start handing over APCs to Ukraine in the fall."

In November, the National Assembly, with two votes at once, ratified the "Agreement between the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Bulgaria and the Ministry of Defense of Ukraine for the free provision of armored transport equipment". The presidential veto came in December and, as it turned out, was easily overridden.

So it already seemed that the delivery of the APCs could begin, with the Ministry of Defense (MoD) having the equipment to load them. But that did not happen. The question was raised about the money for the transportation, about 370,000 euros, and according to Club Z, the Minister of Finance Asen Vassilev said that there are funds, but in order not to delay the process any further - with the announcement of eternally appealable public procurements, the MoD and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) should propose a faster scheme, such as switching to direct contracting, for example.

However, the Ministry of Defense suggested that Bulgaria request funds from the allies and sent an inquiry in January of this year. At that time there was no conversation with the Romanian side about assistance and cost-sharing - another delivery option. This was only done last week. Meanwhile, even Ukrainian businesses offered to take over the transport.

Recently, in a TV appearance, Tagarev himself announced that he has not yet received an invitation to stay after the rotation on March 6.

Today, Mirchev recalled that the National Council of "Yes, Bulgaria" (part of WCC-DB) yesterday decided to request a report in the parliament from the Ministry of Defense on the military-technical assistance to Ukraine.

According to him, Bulgaria can also help Ukraine with a lot of shells that have expired and need to be disposed of, which means additional costs, and in their place, new ones have to be bought anyway. And the Russian breakthrough at Avdiivka was due to the lack of armaments.

"We must all realize that Russia is a danger, and unfortunately there are many people in our country who are ready to welcome Putin with bread and salt," Mirchev said.

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Tags: Defense Minister, military aid, Ukraine, Logistical


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