SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A majority of Bulgaria’s lawmakers on Thursday approved sending the country’s first military aid to Ukraine.
The National Assembly voted 175-49 with one abstention in favor of a proposal submitted by four pro-European Union parties. The government has now one month to decide what kind of weapons Bulgaria can provide without affecting its own defense capabilities.
Bulgaria previously agreed to repair Ukrainian military equipment at its factories but refused to send weapons directly due to opposition from President Rumen Radev and the country’s Moscow-friendly political parties.
Along with Hungary, Bulgaria was the only EU member country that had declined to give Ukraine weapons as it fights Russia’s invasion and war.
“More weapons mean more war,” Bulgarian Socialist Party leader Kornelia Ninova said, explaining why her party’s lawmakers voted against the proposal.
The heated debate that preceded the vote reflected the divisions in Bulgaria since Russia invaded its neighbor.
Even though the country belongs to both NATO and the EU, many Bulgarians harbor strong sympathies for Russia that are rooted in a history, culture, and religion. Bulgaria also relies heavily on Russian energy supplies.
The pro-Russian nationalist Vazrazhdane Party called on its supporters to gather in front of the parliament building to protest the military aid for Ukraine, saying the aid “pushes the country into war.”
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine
Copyright © 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, written or redistributed.