Fact Check: Bulgarian Defense Minister Did NOT Announce That NATO Ships Will Occupy Economic Zone In Black Sea

проверка на факти

  • от: Lead Stories автор
Fact Check: Bulgarian Defense Minister Did NOT Announce That NATO Ships Will Occupy Economic Zone In Black Sea Minesweeping

Did Bulgarian Minister of Defense Todor Tagarev claim that NATO ships will occupy his country's economic zone in the Black Sea? No, that's not true: Tagarev stated that Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey are preparing to launch a joint mine-clearing operation in the Black Sea that will mark the first major collaborative operation by the NATO allies bordering the sea since Russia invaded Ukraine. The operation is not aimed at occupying the Black Sea, which maintains under international law a freedom of navigation status.

The claim appeared in a TikTok video (archived here) on November 16, 2023, with a caption (translated from Bulgarian to English by Lead Stories staff) that read:

This guy won't budge!

Tagarev: NATO ships will occupy the whole Bulgarian economic zone in the Black Sea.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2023-11-19 121459.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Sun Nov 19 10:15:01 2023 UTC)

Social media posts and websites in Bulgaria have been sharing the false claim that Tagarev announced NATO ships would occupy its coastal waters in the Black Sea, including this example from a post on Facebook on November 12, 2023, with the caption:

The commander of NATO forces in Lithuania: 'From Estonia to Bulgaria it is necessary to prepare the population for a war'. Apparently the Americans believe we are like the Ukrainians, in other words - cheap!!!
Tagarev: NATO ships will enter the entire Bulgarian economic zone in the Black Sea.

Screenshot 2023-11-19 123726.png

(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Sun Nov 19 10:37:28 2023 UTC)

In a November 13, 2023, LRT interview, the NATO Forces Commander in Lithuania, Col. Peter Nielsen, discussed NATO's role in providing regional security but he did not call for preparations or a further mobilization for war on the part of Estonia and Bulgaria.

In an unrelated interview on Bulgarian National Radio on October 20, 2023, Defense Minister Tagarev announced that preparations were underway for Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey to launch a mine-clearing operation in the Black Sea. The operation will not violate the Montreux Convention governing freedom of navigation in the Straits of Dardanelles and Black Sea waters, and it will cover the region that includes Bulgaria's exclusive economic maritime zone, focusing on routes used by merchant ships.

The joint mine-clearing operation will be the first major collaborative effort by allies in the Black Sea since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine and it comes at a time when the allies face increasing concerns of provocative behavior by Russia in the region.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defence and the war in Ukraine can be found here.

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