The National Assembly of Bulgaria voted on Friday to override President Rumen Radev’s veto on the plan to donate 100 old armored personnel carriers to the Ukrainian military.
Radev had vetoed the proposal on Monday, insisting that the lawmakers rushed it through the parliamentary procedure and gave insufficient consideration to Bulgarian needs and interests. Under the Bulgarian constitution, however, the parliament can override the veto with a simple majority.
The final vote in the 240-member chamber was 162-55, with no abstentions, according to the Bulgarian news agency BTA.
“With this decision, we are strengthening our Europe and the defense of freedom,” Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky posted on X (formerly Twitter) after the vote. He did not thank Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, however, but the heads of the ruling coalition and their supporters – Boyko Borisov, Kiril Petkov, and Delyan Peevski.
In a heated debate ahead of the vote, opposition MP Ivan Chenchev (BSP) argued that the government was “trying hard to look good in the eyes of your masters,” and that Bulgaria needed the vehicles itself, while the governing coalition claimed the Bulgarian security forces had no need for them any more.
Some of the members must be drunk, said another BSP member, Georgi Svilenski, adding that “It is wrong to allow people under the influence to vote for embroiling Bulgaria in a war.”
At one point, opposition MP Kostadin Kostadinov (Vazrazhdane) said it was “very humiliating” that Bulgaria was donating the vehicles and paying for their delivery as well. Ruling bloc MP Manol Peykov (CC-DB), described as a prominent supporter of Ukraine, heckled Kostadinov and caused “a brawl with Vazrazhdane deputies,” according to BTA.
The deal agreed upon by Kiev and Sofia in August envisions Bulgaria delivering 100 of the BTR-60 wheeled armored personnel carriers – along with parts needed for upkeep and maintenance – to Ukraine.
The eight-wheeled armored transports were designed in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Bulgaria has been trying to replace them with American-made M1117 Guardian four-wheeled armored cars, produced for the US military police since the early 2000s.