Russia is undoubtedly keen at undermining Bulgaria, including Borissov’s government, as fully-fledged NATO and EU members. More so, when it comes to modernizing its Air Force and replacing the Soviet-era MIG-29 figther aircraft with the new F-16V, that could be integrated within the Alliances air defense systems. Moscow’s tactics do not necessitate a positive agenda or warrant a competitive offer – there is none. Suffice it to expand and exploit internal vulnerabilities, including the current feud between the President and the Prime Minister of Bulgaria. The deeper the divide, the smaller the chance the country could engage in consensus-type politics, and further integration within the EU and NATO.
Russia’s best export is the state oligarchic model that presents a ticking time bomb, undermining Bulgaria from within.
Building secure and prosperous Euro-Atlantic value-based institutional, legal, political, military, and economic framework in Bulgaria is quintessential as transfers of Kremlin’s notorious kleptocratic governance matrix permeate the nation’s fabric.
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The associated cynicism transcends all thinkable boundaries when the F-16 deal is used as a smokescreen for corruption, jeopardizing essential security paradigms in the NATO. PM Borissov transactional diplomacy causes excruciating embarrassment to our NATO allies when they are perceived as supportive of an autocratic model that makes mockery of core values and standards of democracy, the rule of law, accountability, and (what kind of ?)performance.
With the same pathos, Borissov could equally preach that the Americans seek to oust him because he is implementing the sacrosanct TurkStream project, or that Washington objects to Gazprom’s monopoly on the Bulgarian gas market and the price premiums that consumers pay. The implicit U.S. narrative could further allude to Borissov’s turning a blind eye on the Russian secret services operations in Bulgaria, including the attempted murder of three Bulgarian nationals, implicating an arms manufacturer close to the media mogul Peevsky.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister’s tight rope walking act between a rock and a hard place has worked so far, but has lost all moral ground sacrificing basic ethical standards to retain power “at any cost.”
Whatever PM Borissov alleges, he should reconcile it with the facts – he can tell different stories to different people in the U.S. and Russia. Still, when the day of reckoning comes, there will be no one to support him because at some point he will inevitably cross red lines and be regarded as immitigable reputational risk.
As for the fate of the F-16 delivery – not to worry, the deal will continue without him, it is irreversible. Neither President Radev, nor the BSP leader are in a position to reverse it.
Bulgaria’s NATO membership does not hang on Borissov alone – he is not the reason the country joined the Alliance, nor is he the reason it will remain in it. Once the burden of corruption and state oligarchs ceases to weigh heavy on the country, Bulgaria will join the higher levels of integration both within NATO and the EU.
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