Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has requested the resignation of Defence Minister Stefan Yanev after a series of controversial statements denying that the Russian invasion in Ukraine was a war.
Starting on February 24, Yanev has repeatedly insisted that the word ‘war’ must not be used as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin was calling the invasion a ‘special operation’. Yanev claimed the word ‘war’ has not been used in any Nato or EU document either.
“No minister has the right to his own external policy, especially on Facebook. No minister can tell the government that his remaining is a function of the government’s stability. This government will not chase stability, but will chase right actions and positions,” Petkov said.
“[M]y military minister cannot use the word “operation” instead of “war”. One cannot call it an operation when thousands of soldiers from the two sides are already killed. Soldiers who are younger than my oldest daughter. When even last night the Bulgarian minority [living in Ukraine] has been shot at, when even this night Bulgarians are hiding in basements in Kyiv because they are afraid that their homes will be blown up,” Petkov said in a statement live broadcasted by Mediapool news outlet on February 28.
He insisted that the Bulgarian interest is not to remain quiet hoping that the country will not be affected by the crisis.
“When we see something we do not agree with, which is so obvious, we cannot say that the Bulgarian interest is to stay quiet. The Bulgarian interest is when we use the voice of Bulgaria, the voice of the Bulgarian government to strongly condemn politics even of the great forces,” Petkov said.
He added that the EU has never been more united than it is now regarding the war in Ukraine.
Yanev wrote on Facebook that all his actions were based on Bulgarian interests and that his dismissal was the result of a political attack. The defence minister, who was previously premier of the two consecutive caretaker governments, was nominated for the current post by Petkov’s Change Continues.
Petkov said his decision to remove Yanev was backed by all coalition partners.
Yanev claimed his dismissal will put Bulgaria’s national security at risk. He added that other decisions the authorities plan to take will have heavy economic, financial and social consequences for the country, though did not specify which decisions these are.
In his speech, Petkov said that the government is to decide later during the day on the aid that Bulgaria will provide to Ukraine. He explained that the aid will be mainly humanitarian but the country will also send ammunition.