Change of stance as Cabinet adopts report that does not see Russia as threat to EU, Bulgaria

Change of stance as Cabinet adopts report that does not see Russia as threat to EU, Bulgaria

The 2017 annual report on national security, adopted by the government and yet to be approved by Parliament, does not see Russia as a threat to the security of the European Union and Bulgaria – a change of stance from the previous document.

The 2016 report said that Russia’s actions were a source of regional instability and threatened the goal of a united, free and peaceful Europe.

Even in the section of the draft new report that refers to an “imbalance of forces” in the Black Sea region and the crisis in Ukraine, the name of Russia is not mentioned directly.

The report says that there are negative changes in the “geostrategic security environment in the immediate vicinity of our territory” and in the Black Sea there is a “disturbed balance of forces”, but does not cite the source of the threat.

Those who compiled the report also note that there is a “crisis of confidence in the relationship” of Bulgaria, the EU, the U.S. and Russia.

But the deteriorating relationship of the Russian Federation with NATO and the EU no longer puts European security in check, going by the report.

There is no longer any evidence of a growing threat in terms of the rearmament of the Russian army, the dominance of Russia in the Black Sea, including the country’s extended outlet to energy reserves, which regarding 2016 was reported as a “permanent disruption of the geostrategic and military balance in the Black Sea region “.

The report’s conclusions state that Bulgaria’s policy is aimed at balancing relations with the Western allies and Russia: “Despite the continuing conflicts in the post-Soviet space and the continuation of the sanctions regime, there was no further deterioration in the relations of the Republic of Bulgaria with the Russian Federation or doubting of the willingness to fulfill our allied obligations”.

The report says that secret services of foreign countries, which have an enduring interest in the region of Southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region, continue to be active. These services work against the interests of Bulgaria and are supported by the political leaderships of the countries concerned. National offices reported “increasing intensity” in implementing hybrid approaches.

Again without mentioning the name of the country concerned, the report says that “different states” continue to attempt to instigate foreign nationalism among certain marginalised groups and communities.

The special services of various countries in the region continue actively to work on the implementation of their own foreign policy doctrines and strategic interests, including through attempts to acquire sensitive and classified information about processes in the social, political, economic, military spheres in Bulgaria.

In 2017, Bulgaria’s State Agency for National Security imposed “coercive administrative measures” on four people who were found to work for foreign services. At the same time, five people were included in the list of “unwanted aliens” that pose a threat to security.

No surprise in the 163 pages of the report is a space for the Belene nuclear power station project, which is marked as a “potential risk to national security”. Belene is also present in the updated National Security Strategy. From the explanations in the report it is clear that failure to implement the project poses a threat because if no solution is found for the rational use of the purchased reactors and the built infrastructure this means that they have to be written off from the balance sheet of the National Electric Company (NEC).

Considering the significant amount of funds invested – about three billion leva, the write-off of the assets will lead to the de-capitalization of the National Electricity Company, NEK. These negative consequences will have a direct impact on the Bulgarian Energy Holding on a consolidated basis, according to the report.

The emergence of such a risk will be characterized by a high degree of impact and could lead to the destabilisation of the electricity sector, taking into account the specific function performed by NEK under the Energy Act, namely the public electricity supplier for the regulated market / household users and business entities connected to low voltage grids, the report says…. / IBNA

Main Photo (File): Boyko Borissov (L), Vladimir Putin (R)