Bulgaria approves repairs to Ukrainian military equipment, not military aid

FILE PHOTO: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy (R) and Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov hold talks in Kyiv
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SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's parliament voted on Wednesday to allow repairs of Ukrainian heavy military equipment and seek ways to help Ukrainian exports of grains and electricity, sidestepping proposals to provide direct military aid to Kyiv.

European Union and NATO member state Bulgaria has condemned the Russian invasion of Ukraine, supported sanctions against Moscow, refused to pay for Russian gas with roubles and hosted over 90,000 Ukrainian refugees.

But the Black Sea country remains one of the few in the 27-member EU to have not sent arms and ammunitions to Kyiv as one of the four coalition partners, the Russia-friendly Socialists, opposed the move and threatened to bolt if it were approved.

Lawmakers voted to allow the government to provide military-technical support to Ukraine and see how it can repair Ukrainian heavy military equipment as Ukraine has requested.

Two other proposals that supported sending military aid to Ukraine did not win enough support in the chamber.

Bulgarian arms exports have increased threefold since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, official data showed. The country does not export arms to Ukraine directly but officials have said that they cannot control what buyers, mainly from EU countries, would like to do further with these exports.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova)