After his visit to Sofia, Volodymyr Zelensky on his way to Prague
The Ukrainian president is on his way to Prague on Thursday, where he is to meet his Czech counterpart, Petr Pavel, and other officials, a spokeswoman for the Czech president said. The Ukrainian president traveled to Sofia on Thursday to discuss his country’s NATO membership and to plead for an acceleration of the delivery of arms to Ukraine, in the midst of a counter-offensive against Russia. “We are grateful for the support provided by Bulgaria”declared the Bulgarian head of state alongside his new prime minister, Nikolai Denkov, who prompted a change of tone by openly supporting kyiv.
Among the subjects on the program of his visit of a few hours to the Bulgarian capital, “defense support [ukrainienne]Ukraine’s integration into the EU and the Atlantic Alliance, the NATO summit and security guarantees », according to a message posted on the social network Telegram. A “joint statement” was signed in favor of kyiv joining NATO, ahead of the Vilnius summit, scheduled for 11 and 12 July. The Ukrainian president said he came to fill “lack of weapons”, while time is running out. He repeated that slow deliveries had delayed Kiev’s counter-offensive, allowing Moscow to strengthen its defenses in occupied areas, particularly with mines. “The motivation of our partners must remain intact”, he insisted. Otherwise, “we will lose the initiative on the battlefield”.
To the Bulgarian President, Roumen Radev, who is fiercely opposed to any sending of military aid for fear of an escalation, Volodymyr Zelensky retorted that it was a question of ” to defend oneself “ to prevent the war from spreading to the rest of Europe. Bulgaria, a member of the EU and NATO but historically and culturally close to Moscow, is deeply divided on the subject. In practice, however, communist-era armaments factories have been running at full capacity since the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Last year, Bulgarian military industry exports were estimated to approach 4 billion euros – triple the previous record, which dates back to 2017. Until now, third countries acted as intermediaries, a solution found at the start of the war by former Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. “Almost everything we received in the first days of the conflict came from our Bulgarian partners”presidential adviser Mykhaïlo Podoliak recently declared on the Bulgarian television channel Nova.
The Russian presidency castigated this visit, seeing in it kyiv’s desire to train “more countries” in the conflict in Ukraine. “Many countries have already plunged headlong into this conflict, directly or indirectly. This subject will be discussed with the Bulgarians.”Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.