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Russia closes part of Black Sea to ships: Bulgaria talks with NATO about response to provocation

Thursday, 14 September 2023, 09:08
Russia closes part of Black Sea to ships: Bulgaria talks with NATO about response to provocation

Bulgaria is negotiating with its NATO allies on how to respond to Russian provocations in the Black Sea, in particular to Russia's partial blockade of its Black Sea exclusive economic zone.

Source: European Pravda, citing Todor Tagarev, Minister of Defence of Bulgaria; Euractiv

Details: Tagarev said that Russia has declared part of the Bulgarian economic zone in the Black Sea closed to shipping until the end of September due to military exercises in the area. And he emphasised that Bulgaria considers these actions a provocation.


Quote from Tagarev: "Bulgaria is discussing a response to these provocations – both independently and with our NATO allies."

Details: Asked by Euractiv whether Bulgaria has developed scenarios in case of a Russian attack on cargo ships heading from Ukrainian ports through Bulgarian waters or the economic zone in the Black Sea, the Ministry of Defence replied that there are no such scenarios.

"At the moment, there is no immediate risk or threat of an attack against merchant vessel sailing in the territorial sea of a NATO member state.

These waters are under the sovereignty of each coastal state and are part of the state territory. An attack in the territorial sea can be considered as an attack on the Republic of Bulgaria and NATO as a whole," the ministry added.

Details: The ministry said that the naval forces of Bulgaria, Romania and Türkiye increased their vigilance, continuing to perform tasks with their own forces and means to ensure the safety of merchant ships passing through the Black Sea.

The ministry also stated that additional measures to ensure shipping safety in economic zones "can only be provided by NATO actions, following the UN Charter and international maritime law, coordinated with other regional partners."

"The Bulgarian position regarding security in the Black Sea has always been based on the principle of allied solidarity, allied actions and allied guarantees within the framework of NATO. When making such an alliance decision, Bulgaria would contribute according to its capabilities," the country's position on Russia's actions in the Black Sea reads.

Asked whether the routes of cargo ships transporting grain through Bulgaria's economic zone in the Black Sea could be coordinated, the ministry said there is no legal basis for this.


  • A week ago, the Bulgarian government allocated almost €20 million to purchase missiles and torpedoes for the navy.
  • The country is also interested in urgently purchasing RBS-15 missile systems for the coast guard from the Swedish company Saab.
  • Earlier, Tagarev assumed that there could be a clash between Russia and NATO in the Black Sea.

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