Bulgaria Moving Closer to US on Defence and Energy

ER Editor: We issue an MSM-alert for the RFE/RL piece below, accusing Russia of things it did not do such as ‘annexing’ Crimea when the citizens of that region voted to join Russia. No mention is made of the Obama administration’s coup on Ukraine in 2014, and how Obama had planned to seize the Russian military base at Crimea. See Eric Zuesse’s excellent piece on this, titled How the War in Ukraine Started.

The US is already using Greece as a military base. See Will the US use Greece to block Russia in the Black Sea?  (See also Is Greece Becoming a Weaponized Anti-Russian Small Power?) Turkey, which controls access to the Black Sea via the Dardanelles, is still a NATO member yet a very unreliable one purchasing as it has Russia’s S-400 air defence missile system. So it’s no wonder that the US wants a more reliable country in which to gain a presence inside the Black Sea. See the attached map both for the military base in Greece (marked) as well as Bulgaria’s location.

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Bulgaria Offers To Host NATO Black Sea Coordination Center In Varna

URDUPOINT via Sputnik News Italian

WASHINGTON – Bulgaria offered to host a coordination center for NATO maritime presence in the Black Sea, the joint statement on US-Bulgaria strategic partnership said.

“Viewing with concern the security situation in the Black Sea, the United States welcomes Bulgaria‘s offer to provide a maritime coordination function at Varna in support of NATO‘s Tailored Forward Presence initiative,” the statement said on Monday after US President Donald Trump and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov met in Washington.

Both countries also called for bolstering Bulgaria‘s own maritime operations capabilities and agreed to convene a high-level strategic dialogue to discuss matter of defense cooperation, according to the joint statement.

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Eastern Europe Is Turning into an Energy Battleground

Bulgaria has agreed to allow NATO to use its Black Sea port for naval coordination efforts as tensions rise between the Western military alliance and Russia.

The agreement was reached following a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov at the White House on November 25.

NATO has bolstered its defenses in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea region, which is becoming a new frontier for energy geopolitics, after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and seized Ukrainian Navy vessels last year. (ER: fake news alert – Russia did not annex Crimea. Crimean voted to return to Russia.)

NATO earlier this year carried out military exercises in the Black Sea that involved more than 20 ships and crews from Romania, Bulgaria, Canada, Greece, the Netherlands, and Turkey to the consternation of Moscow. Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based in Crimea.

U.S. and Bulgarian officials will hold high-level meetings to discuss further maritime military cooperation, the statement said.

NATO members Bulgaria, Romania, and Turkey border the Black Sea along with Ukraine, Georgia, and Russia. Both Ukraine and Georgia have expressed a desire to join NATO.

Trump hosted Romanian President Klaus Iohannis last month as part of a series of engagements with leaders from Central and Eastern Europe, including Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, and Austria.

Prior to his arrival in Washington, Borisov told journalists that he would not allow a permanent NATO military base on the Black Sea, a move that would anger Russia.

Bulgaria agreed to continue increasing its military spending to modernize its military and meet NATO’s spending targets of at least 2 percent of gross domestic product, a threshold it will surpass this year following the purchase of its first F-16 fighter jets from the United States.

It’s part of a $1.67 billion package that is the country’s biggest military procurement since the fall of communism in the early 1990s. It includes ammunition, training, and support from the United States.

The eight F-16 jets are expected to be delivered to Bulgaria in 2023 and 2024 to replace the Bulgarian Air Force’s fleet of Soviet-built MiG-29s.

Washington agreed to seek defense-industry partnerships with Bulgarian companies, while Sofia agreed to open its defense procurement to U.S. companies, a separate joint statement from the two presidents said.

Energy Diversification

Washington will aim to help Bulgaria wean itself off Russian energy dependence, not just through exports of natural gas but also through the supply of nuclear fuel, the joint presidential statement said.

Bulgaria’s only nuclear plant, Kozloduy, runs on energy supplied by Russia while it imports the majority of its oil and gas from Russia. The United States will send a “technical team” to Bulgaria to study cooperation in different areas of energy, including nuclear.

“The United States and Bulgaria also plan to work together to enhance Bulgaria’s energy security by supporting expeditiously the licensing and use of American nuclear fuel for the Kozloduy nuclear power plant,” the joint presidential statement said.

The United States also called on Bulgaria to fight corruption and protect media freedoms, which have eroded over the past decade as the energy sector comes under the control of politically connected oligarchs.

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Original article

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