In the News March 23
U.S. European Command Forms Multinational NATO Battle Group in Bulgaria
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) informed that U.S. European Command has established a NATO multinational battle group in Bulgaria. U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III said, “It’s an important step in the face of nearby Russian aggression in Ukraine and the United States fully supports it.”
At a press conference with Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, Austin said that U.S. and Bulgarian forces are training together, and Bulgaria is also working on important defence modernization efforts as outlined in a bilateral 10-year roadmap for defence cooperation.
“Your commitment is a model for other allies to follow. Improving Bulgaria’s military readiness and NATO interoperability is even more vital today,” Austin said.
“In our conversation, the prime minister and I were both struck by the courage and the conviction of the Ukrainian people. They’re fighting against huge odds to defend their country. And their struggle is crucial for the rules-based international order and for the common values that Bulgaria and United States share,” Austin said.
Petkov praised his country’s subordination to the United States and submission of its economy to the U.S. war economy saying, “America has shown tremendous support to Bulgaria.” “No one can defend themselves alone. Our security lies with the collective security with our allies within NATO,” he said.
The United States has agreed to provide a Stryker unit to contribute to the battle group in Bulgaria, he said, mentioning that the battle group commander will be a Bulgarian. He said this sends a strong signal to other NATO allies to also help boost Bulgaria’s military forces.
Petkov also said the U.S. and Bulgaria discussed logistics and ways to better facilitate troop movements such as building roads, railroads and a bridge over the Danube River.
While Austin and Petkov were holding a joint press conference, a crowd of people demonstrated in front of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence, chanting and carrying signs against the U.S. and NATO. Among the demands they raised was that Bulgaria not send any weapons to Ukraine.
(U.S. Department of Defense press statement, March 21, 2022.)
TML Daily, posted March 23, 2022.