Bulgaria to back new sanctions if Ukraine truce crumbles

The Ukraine crisis has tested the loyalties of Bulgaria, a Balkan country with historical ties to Moscow and heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.

Bulgaria to back new sanctions if Ukraine truce crumbles


World Bulletin / News Desk

Bulgaria will support a new round of sanctions against Moscow if pro-Russian separatists are found to have breached a peace deal agreed for eastern Ukraine, Foreign Minister Daniel Mitov told Reuters on Friday.

Sofia plans to send a humanitarian convoy of food and medicine to help ethnic Bulgarians caught up in the conflict, but the timing of delivering such aid would depend on when it is safe enough to send it, Mitov said.

The Ukraine crisis has tested the loyalties of Bulgaria, a Balkan country with historical ties to Moscow and heavily dependent on Russian energy supplies.

Now a member of NATO and the European UnionBulgaria has so far gone along with sanctions against Moscow and will host one of six new NATO command centres set up to bolster the defences of states formerly under Moscow's domination.

"The sanctions are the only instrument which the European Union and the transatlantic community in general have at this very moment, as no one of course wants to go to war and we are hoping for political solution, for a diplomatic solution," Mitov said.

"But of course we are ready to react accordingly if the agreement gets violated."

Hopes for a lasting ceasefire dimmed on Friday as Kiev reported the first deaths in three days in eastern Ukraine, and Moscow hit back at accusations it had lied about the presence of Russian troops or equipment in the region.

More than 85 percent of Bulgaria's gas supplies are bought from Russia, its only oil refinery is controlled by Russia's LUKOIL, and its nuclear plant runs on Russian fuel.

Bulgaria would also have been a major beneficiary of the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline, intended to pump gas to Europe while bypassing Ukraine, which Russia abandoned in December, citing EU obstacles.

As a result, the Ukraine crisis has sharpened Bulgaria's efforts to diversify its energy supplies, build gas links with neighbours Romania and Greece, and seek EU support for a gas hub on its soil.

"There is no alternative to it. We need to be interconnected, we need to have diversification of gas supplies," Mitov said.

Last Mod: 27 Şubat 2015, 21:02
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