The United States plans to deploy a military unit to Bulgaria, Bulgarian Prime Minister Kirill Petkov announced after talks with US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the capital Sofia on Saturday.
This move comes as part of efforts to strengthen the eastern flank of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
This unit is planned to be under the command of the NATO Supreme Commander Europe.
Petkov emphasized that no arms shipments would be sent from Bulgaria to Ukraine, saying during a news conference: “We have not discussed in any way the provision of military support to Ukraine.”
Petkov stressed that Bulgaria will continue to provide humanitarian support to Ukrainians.
US Secretary of Defense Austin praised Bulgaria’s humanitarian aid to Ukraine.
The Bulgarian Defense Ministry in Sofia said Austin discussed with Bulgarian Defense Minister Dragomir Sakov the Bulgarian-created multinational battle group, which is under NATO command.
The announced US military unit will become part of this battle group.
The two ministers inspected the Bulgarian and US forces on Friday during exercises in eastern Bulgaria.
During the Austin talks in Sofia, supporters of the pro-Russian Nationalist (Renaissance) Party protested outside the Defense Ministry and government headquarters against NATO and the possibility of arms deliveries to Ukraine. The demonstrators raised the flags of Bulgaria and Russia. They chanted: “Kick out NATO.”
Before Austin’s visit, international media reports generated controversy in Bulgaria, which spoke of the possibility of Bulgaria handing over its Soviet S-300 anti-aircraft system to Ukraine. Bulgarian President Rumen Radev warned against the decision to supply weapons to Ukraine and thus against Bulgaria’s participation in the war.