Bulgarian Defence Minister Todor Tagarev said that the persistent fear of war in Bulgarian society, fueled by disinformation by pro-Russian sources, gravely affects the army’s combat readiness.
During the debate in the Bulgarian parliament on the motion of no confidence in the government, the pro-Russian Socialist and Vozrazhdane (Revival) parties criticized the security policy.
How pro-Russian propaganda affects Bulgarians
Tagarev accused both parties of propagating misinformation, pointing out how this diminishes young people’s wish to join the army.
According to a Bulgarian Ministry of Defence report, the number of applications to military academies has decreased by 35%, and the number of cadets has reduced by 45%.
Over the next four years, the ministry predicts a significant shortfall of officers in the Bulgarian army.
Pro-Russian party in Bulgarian parliament
The openly pro-Russian Revival party has recently gained popularity in Bulgaria. In the April 2023 parliamentary elections, the party won a record 14% of the vote, becoming the third largest in the parliament.
However, the pro-Russian government never got into the government, which was formed by pro-European forces.
Bulgarian support for Ukraine
Commenting on pro-Russian disinformation that NATO membership and military assistance to Ukraine would lead to a direct military conflict between Bulgaria and Russia, the defense minister pointed out that “this is a vivid example of how the disinformation campaign of parliamentary parties is reducing the country’s combat capability”.
Responding to concerns about Bulgaria’s military assistance to Ukraine, Tagarev said that the country was assisting a victim of unprovoked aggression.
“By protecting itself, Ukraine is protecting Europe from the Kremlin. If Ukraine loses, be prepared to double at least the resources Bulgaria allocates for defense,” he added.
Bulgaria’s choice to support Ukraine and be its security and defense partner is a significant step which shows its resolution to confront Russian aggression. This backing is crucial as it comes from a pro-European government eager to enhance ties with NATO and the EU that stands with Ukraine.
Nonetheless, Bulgaria continues to face Russian disinformation that could jeopardise its security. The government meets the need to take actions to combat misinformation, such as expanding access to verified reports, taking measures against sites and accounts caught spreading fake news, and strengthening educational campaigns.