Agricultural imports from Ukraine: Bulgarian parliament supports ban lifting

The National Assembly of Bulgaria on Thursday has decided to support lifting the ban on Ukrainian agricultural imports after 15 September. The vote occurred after over two hours of debate in the plenary hall.

124 legislators supported the decision to lift the ban on grain import from Ukraine, which expires on 15 September, and 69 MPs were against it.

On Tuesday, the Committee on Economic Policy and Innovation of the Parliament of Bulgaria approved a draft decision stating that the country does not support the extension of the ban on importing certain agricultural products from Ukraine after 15 September.

As a result, tensions arose between Bulgarian farmers and the authorities over the next two days. The industry threatened protests, while the sources said that the ban on Ukrainian imports is one of the reasons for the rise in prices in the country.

The day before, Agriculture Minister Kiril Vatev said that he did not discuss the proposal to cancel the ban. However, later in the day, he admitted that there was an economic logic to this, as allowing imports would not have severe consequences for the Bulgarian economy.

Vater said the control over importing Ukrainian products will be strengthened, as they do not meet EU standards.

The GERB-SDS party commented that today's decision is not essential since the ban will be cancelled at the EU level anyway. The PP-DB political party said that this decision would reduce prices.

"It is necessary to compare what is more important – to slightly but significantly reduce food inflation for 7 million people or to give an additional advantage to the sector that receives 2 billion per year," Kiril Petkov from PP-DB said.

The opposition criticized the parliament's decision and called it "treason." "This is pure national treason not because we are not in favor of a free market, but because we cannot put our grain producers in a situation where they become uncompetitive," said Deyan Nikolov from the Vazrazhdane ("Renaissance") party.

The Office of the President of Ukraine welcomed the vote of the Bulgarian Parliament. "This is a vivid example of how a mature European democracy makes decisions based on facts, not emotions, and does not mix economics and politics. We are sincerely grateful to the government and parliament of Bulgaria," Deputy Head of the President's Office Ihor Zhovkva said.

Russian attack killed a child in Kherson Oblast, injures teenage and neighbors who tried to help

A 6-year-old boy has been killed, and his 13-year-old brother wounded in an overnight Russian attack on the settlement of Novodmytrivka in Kherson Oblast. Three neighbors who tried to help the children but came under repeated fire were also injured.

The prosecutor's office reports that the Russians shelled the settlement of Novodmytrivka in Bilozerka hromada using artillery after 00:00. The Russian shells hit a private residential building and its grounds. [A hromada is an administrative unit designating a town, village, or several villages and their adjacent territories – ed.].

A 6-year-old boy sustained fatal injuries. His 13-year-old brother was taken to the hospital in a critical condition. Three neighbors who tried to help but came under Russian fire were wounded.

Private residential buildings and outbuildings were damaged.

Russia closes part of Black Sea to ships: Bulgaria talks with NATO about response to provocation

Bulgaria is negotiating with its NATO allies on how to respond to Russian provocations in the Black Sea, particularly Russia's partial blockade of its exclusive economic zone.

Todor Tagarev, Minister of Defence of Bulgaria Tagarev, said that Russia has declared part of the Bulgarian economic zone in the Black Sea closed to shipping until the end of September due to military exercises in the area. And he emphasized that Bulgaria considers these actions a provocation.

"Bulgaria is discussing a response to these provocations – independently and with our NATO allies," said Tagarev.

"At the moment, there is no immediate risk or threat of an attack against merchant vessel sailing in the territorial sea of a NATO member state.

These waters are under the sovereignty of each coastal state and are part of the state territory. The ministry added that an attack in the territorial sea can be considered an attack on the Republic of Bulgaria and NATO as a whole," the church added.

The ministry said that the naval forces of Bulgaria, Romania, and Türkiye increased their vigilance, continuing to perform tasks with their details and means to ensure the safety of merchant ships passing through the Black Sea.

The ministry also stated that additional measures to ensure shipping safety in economic zones "can only be provided by NATO actions, following the UN Charter and international maritime law, coordinated with other regional partners."

"The Bulgarian position regarding security in the Black Sea has always been based on the principle of allied solidarity, allied actions, and allied guarantees within the framework of NATO. When making such an alliance decision, Bulgaria would contribute according to its capabilities," the country's position on Russia's actions in the Black Sea reads.

Asked whether the routes of cargo ships transporting grain through Bulgaria's economic zone in the Black Sea could be coordinated, the ministry said there is no legal basis for this.