AviationEU Defense (Doctrine)

The Russians exhaust the Bulgarian hunt

the Bulgarian fighter in exercise (credit: Bulgarian Army)
the Bulgarian fighter in exercise (credit: Bulgarian Army)

(BRUXELLES2) Not a week ago today when Bulgarian Mig 29s did not take off to "correct" the trajectory of a Russian military aircraft. This is a reality observed by the Bulgarian authorities. It's quite simple. " In the last months, the Bulgarian fighter has made more thefts than in the last 20 years “says the Bulgarian President, Rosen Plevneliev, according to our colleague from Sofia News Agency. " They used to come out about 2-3 times a year, now it's twice a week!  ". And to wonder: “QWho has an interest in these extraordinary flights of Bulgarian fighter planes, perhaps more intended to exhaust our technical capacities, perhaps to require faster maintenance (*), perhaps to exhaust the resources of the Bulgarian army? ". Indeed " every time the airspace over the Black Sea is violated, it's two Turkish planes, two Romanian planes ... and two Bulgarian planes”. All of this " because of a single Russian plane, It's not effective thunders the Bulgarian president who seems to be calling for the reform of aerial surveillance in NATO countries. According to Defense Minister Angel Naidenov, these thefts are caused “by Russian transport and fighter jets flying very close to NATO airspace over the Black Sea”. Even if on the Bulgarian side, we refuse to further accuse Moscow of playing the strategy of tension, as it does in Ukraine, everyone will be free to appreciate it.

(*) This "output" calls for three remarks:

1) Who says Mig 29, says Russia. The technical maintenance of these Russian-designed aircraft, like the spare parts, depends on RSK Mig, a Russian company closely dependent on Russian power, if only for orders. If one day Moscow decides as a retaliatory measure to also suspend the delivery of parts and the maintenance of the Mig planes, the Bulgarian fighter finds itself nailed to the ground. Ditto for the Mi helicopters. It is this point that requires some caution when talking about an arms embargo or suspension, the Russian reply which could soon be critical for some countries.

2) By the way, this is an excellent argument, by the way, to renew the Bulgarian fleet (as well as the Romanian one, the two countries seeking to modernize their fleet. The acquisition of second-hand F-16s being envisaged. must not deny this "communication" aspect in the expression of the Bulgarian officials.

3) More generally, we can consider that the European military system is obsolete. It is not only a financial and material question, it is a question of political essence. There is a lack of European strategic and military thinking even more than of equipment. This thought dates from the 10th century and not from the XNUMXst. Some European states - which claim to have an army - but are no longer able to maintain it, while the others (France and the United Kingdom included) have an army - in working order - but will be unable in the next XNUMX years to ensure all military segments as they have done so far. It is reality. There are nation states which still act - despite all the efforts of multinational organizations such as NATO and the EU - in a divided and fragmented way in the face of neighbors (Russians) or partners (Americans, Chinese) who are working on a single space, with a single chain of command. This fragmentation is harmful. To take up what Dany Cohn Bendit said, it is time to put an end to a vision of European security which is based solely on national visions.

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).