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20 Feb, 2024 13:49

Ukraine military aid delayed over NATO funding row – media 

Bulgaria vowed to provide 100 Soviet-era armored personnel carriers to Kiev months ago 
Ukraine military aid delayed over NATO funding row – media 

A Bulgarian pledge to deliver 100 Soviet-era BTR-60 armored personnel carriers to Ukraine is facing delays over Sofia’s request for NATO to pay the transportation costs, Euractiv reported on Tuesday. 

The Bulgarian parliament authorized the transfer of the vehicles last November, after overcoming a presidential veto. On Monday, Defense Minister Todor Tagarev said he was working with other government departments and foreign partners to dispatch the personnel carriers within the next month. 

“It’s a complicated operation. We are talking about large trains that need to be guarded,” Tagarev wrote on social media. 

The minister stressed that the shipping costs will partially be covered by foreign money. 

Euractiv cited Tagarev’s critics in the Bulgarian parliament, who have accused him of causing the delays through mismanagement. MP Ivaylo Mirchev claimed that the ministry “does not work optimally” under the current leadership. 

In early February, Tagarev showcased the loading of BTR-60s onto road transport platforms, saying the Defense and Interior Ministries were gathering the vehicles all around the country. That process took three weeks, he said in his latest update. 

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in December vetoed the arms deal with Kiev, which was initially struck last August. Although Radev is a Russia critic, he claimed the transfer was ill-conceived and went against national interests. He was subsequently overruled by a parliamentary majority.  

Bulgaria purchased the military hardware in the 1980s while part of the Warsaw Pact bloc. Some reports have suggested that the vehicles, which were developed in the 1960s, are obsolete and will be of little use in modern warfare.

“That Ukraine would even bother inducting a hundred old BTRs speaks to the Ukrainian armed forces’ bottomless appetite for combat vehicles,” Forbes military analyst David Axe wrote after the Bulgarian donation was first announced. Their armor is “so flimsy that a determined machine-gunner easily could knock out a BTR,” he added.

Moscow perceives the Ukraine conflict as a Western proxy war against Russia, in which Ukrainians serve a “cannon fodder.” The continued arming of Kiev is intended to prolong the hostilities, but will not change their outcome, Russian officials have insisted.