Military expert Iliya Nalbantov: The New Iron Curtain raises Bulgaria's Importance

Bulgarian citizens and economy will benefit from the construction of the infrastructure that will be for NATO needs. With a new iron curtain emerging from Murmansk to Ararat, Bulgaria's importance will grow with it.

The saga of the unshipped APCs is proof of the inability of the Bulgarian political class to implement an effective defence policy.

This is what Iliya Nalbantov, military expert and chairman of the George Marshall-Bulgaria Association, said in an interview with BGNES.

BGNES published the full text of the interview:

BGNES: In the proposed plan for modernization of the infrastructure there is talk about its development along the North-South axis, there is little or almost no talk about the strategic importance of the West-East line, and let us not forget that there we have NATO member states - Albania and North Macedonia, in which Bulgaria has strategic interests. What should Bulgaria do to develop this corridor as well and make it a priority for NATO?

Iliya Nalbantov: As far as I know Bulgaria is doing everything possible to make Corridor 8 happen. Whether this corridor is a priority from a strategic point of view for the forward deployment of troops and forces of NATO member states is another question. Perhaps its time will come too, but with the current development of the Russo-Ukrainian war, it has been judged that the priority should be the development of the entire communications infrastructure from Alexandroupolis in Greece to the military bases of Kogalniceanu and Constanta Romania. And here it does not matter whether Greece wins, the important thing is that every Bulgarian citizen, the Bulgarian economy and Bulgaria will win, because this infrastructure will be part of the national infrastructure and the rules for the functioning of the national infrastructure will apply to it. This thesis-motive must be the guiding principle in the implementation of national policy. With a new iron curtain emerging from Murmansk to Ararat, the development of this infrastructure will increase Bulgaria's importance. Our country must engage in a way that, at the design level, sets parameters comparable to the traffic through the Bosphorus straits.

BGNES: The issue of shells and ammunition will be crucial for Ukraine in 2024. Instead of disposing of them and spending money on this, should we send them to Ukraine?

Iliya Nalbantov: I do not know where you got this information, but it is hardly possible to store such a quantity of unusable ammunition for artillery systems in state warehouses. And, it would be criminal on the Bulgarian side if we allow ourselves to send ammunition unfit for combat use to Ukraine. Whether the Bulgarian state is making the necessary efforts to continue to donate, not sell, ammunition to Ukraine that is fit for combat use is another matter.

BGNES: On whom does it depend to send APCs to Ukraine? Why are they still in our country and not on their way to Ukraine?

Iliya Nalbantov: The saga with these Soviet-era antiques shows the inadequacy of the Bulgarian political elite to carry out real political actions from A to Z. All the hullabaloo revolved around the National Assembly's decision to provide them, but not a single MP thought that the National Assembly should authorize or oblige the government to provide the means of transportation for these armored personnel carriers. As far as I am aware, all the organisation related to the preparation for their transportation from the Bulgarian side has been done, just waiting for funding from a foreign country and the release of a sufficient wagon fleet and a time window for their transportation to Ukraine. If the National Assembly had also decided to provide financial resources for sending these machines to Ukraine, a significant part of this money would have gone to the Bulgarian railways. So this case is indicative that there is no rationality in Bulgarian political thinking, and we could go further. This case is indirect evidence of the inability of the Bulgarian political class to implement an effective defence policy. /BGNES