Fact Check: Defense Minister Tagarev Did NOT Say That 'Bulgaria Is Ready For War With Russia'

проверка на факти

  • от: Lead Stories автор
Fact Check: Defense Minister Tagarev Did NOT Say That 'Bulgaria Is Ready For War With Russia' Misrepresented

Did the Bulgarian minister of defense declare that Bulgaria was ready for war with Russia during a meeting hosted by the Atlantic Council on January 10, 2024? No, that's not true: Minister Todor Tagarev addressed Bulgaria's security prospects and challenges, cooperation with NATO and the U.S., and support for Ukraine in the context of Russia's aggression but video from the meeting shows he did not declare that Bulgaria was ready for war with Russia.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok on January 16, 2024, with captions (translated from Bulgarian to English by Lead Stories staff) that read:

This man declared before the Atlantic Council that Bulgaria is ready for war with Russia


Give me a gun, you fool. I know who to fight against. All you venal politicians of assemblies and behind-the-scenes masquerades, you will see who I am going to war against. Do you think that there are no Bulgarians who are loyal and love their country? Please give me a weapon.

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

Screenshot 2024-01-18 230232.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Thu Jan 18 21:02:34 2024 UTC)

In January 2024, Defense Minister Tagarev (archived here) spoke with members of the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank dedicated to promoting "constructive leadership and engagement in international affairs," during a five-day working visit (archived here) to the United States. The U.S. visit was a part of the normal strategic dialogue between Bulgaria and the U.S. and followed a similar meeting in Sofia in September 2023 (archived here).

Some social media posts (archived here) have falsely claimed (archived here) that Tagarev declared "Bulgaria is ready for war with Russia" at a meeting of the Atlantic Council (archived here).

The January 10, 2024, meeting, called "A conversation with the Minister of Defense of Bulgaria Todor Tagarev," (archived here) can be seen on the YouTube channel of the Atlantic Council. The hourlong conversation shows Tagarev discussing Bulgaria's security challenges and identifying three key factors impacting Bulgaria's security: Russia's war in Ukraine, the situation in the Western Balkans and the Middle East, presenting issues, he said, that necessitate the development and modernization of Bulgaria's defense. Tagarev spoke about Bulgaria's collaboration with NATO and the U.S., including hosting a multinational battle group and planning a maritime security center, and he affirmed Bulgaria's support for Ukraine's territorial integrity and its provision of various forms of aid.

Lastly, he discussed the integration of the Western Balkans, supporting European Union enlargement, contributing to peacekeeping operations, countering Russia's hybrid threats and seeking to resolve issues with North Macedonia and Serbia. At no point did he state that Bulgaria is ready for war with Russia.

Tagarev has previously acknowledged that he's been a target of pro-Russian disinformation (archived here), which he said is aimed at weakening the Bulgarian military, saying the disinformation campaigns (archived here) exacerbate understaffing issues within the Bulgarian army.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense can be found here.

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