Bulgaria on the gas supply stop: End of the friendly tones towards Moscow

Status: 04/27/2022 2:25 p.m

Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Petkov sharply attacks Moscow after the gas supply freeze. The actions of Putin and Gazprom are “organized crime”. Bulgaria does not allow itself to be blackmailed and is helping “all its neighbors”.

By Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Studio Vienna

Bulgaria – traditionally more pro-Russian, but only until Putin attacked Ukraine – is sending a clear message to Moscow: we cannot be blackmailed. On the contrary: Even if the Russian state-owned company Gazprom stopped supplying gas overnight and came as a bit of a surprise, the Bulgarian government was prepared for this scenario. That says Kiril Petkov, the new reform prime minister. He has only been in power since last December. There will be no problems for consumers, he promises. His energy ministry has an action plan, there are alternatives.

Heating season in Bulgaria is over

Although 90 percent of Bulgarian gas supplies come from Russia until now. This is mainly used for heating – but winter is over in Bulgaria. Which means that half of the gas consumption can currently be saved.

In June, the long-prepared connection to the gas network in neighboring Greece should also be ready. And Bulgaria still has a few gas reserves in storage.

As long as he is in office, says Bulgaria’s Energy Minister Alexander Nikolov, he will not allow Bulgaria to be taken hostage by Russia with an energy supply freeze. The EU country Bulgaria is looking for long-term solutions together with the European Commission.

Bulgaria: Russia does not give reasons

With the current delivery stop, Gazprom is breaking existing contracts. In addition, no reasons were given why, apart from Poland, Bulgaria was suddenly no longer being supplied. Bulgaria paid on time, although not as requested to the new Gazprom special accounts and in rubles.

Nikolov sees a need for clarification at Gazprom: “As far as payment is concerned, there are clear rules. There really isn’t a ruble problem, there is a problem with the payment mechanism – and with controlling it.”

So much for business. Politically, Nikolov’s statement is clear and unambiguous. “Bulgaria is a loyal partner for all neighboring countries – Bulgaria is not Russia,” he says. “If we have the opportunity to help, then we help all the neighbors.” He means Ukraine.

And Petkov adds: “We will not take part in this organized crime.” Addressee: Gazprom, Putin, Russia.

coalition disagreements

So it’s over with diplomatic restraint. And that also with a view to one of the four governing parties, the former Bulgarian communists. They are threatening to leave the government if Bulgaria supplies arms to Ukraine. The tone is intensifying, also in Sofia.

Bulgaria: Response to Russia’s gas freeze, tone intensifies

Wolfgang Vichtl, ARD Vienna, April 27, 2022 1:35 p.m

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