Bulgaria rules out sending warships to US-led coalition in Red Sea

Balkans
Fri, 5 Jan 2024 7:20 GMT
Signing of deal to form Bulgarian-Romanian-Turkish anti-sea mine force in Black Sea imminent, says defense minister.
Bulgaria rules out sending warships to US-led coalition in Red Sea

Bulgaria ruled out sending warships to the US-led coalition in the Red Sea against Yemen’s Houthi rebels, media reports said Thursday.

Defense Minister Todor Tagarev said Bulgaria would not deploy ships or troops to Yemen, according to state-run BTA news agency.

“We cannot engage in such an operation without a parliamentary resolution,” he said.

In reference to Bulgarian crew members who were hijacked and a Bulgarian vessel, he said: “We are seeking a solution. We are discussing various options.”

Tagarev drew attention to the Bulgarian captain and first mate of the Galaxy Leader that have not yet been released after being hijacked Nov. 19, although the rest of the sailors were freed. "Our task is to find a way to get them free,” he said.

Another Bulgarian vessel, Ruen, was also hijacked on Dec. 15 “with eight sailors on board. So far only one crew was freed. We are seeking a solution. We are discussing various options,” he added.

Regarding the formation of a Bulgarian, Romanian and Turkish anti-sea mine task force in the Black Sea, Tagarev said: “We have reached an agreement on the concept and the text of the agreement - how to settle all matters, and next week my deputy will be in Istanbul for the signing so that this mission will start soon.”

Yemen’s Houthi rebels have significantly stepped up their involvement in the Israel-Hamas conflict in the Gaza Strip by targeting vessels in the southern Red Sea. The group has warned that it will attack all Israel-bound ships. It said attacks are to support Palestinians as they face Israel's "aggression and siege" in Gaza.

The Red Sea is one of the world's most frequently used sea routes for oil and fuel shipments.

US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin recently announced the creation of a multinational mission, Operation Prosperity Guardian, to counter Houthi attacks on commercial vessels in the Red Sea.

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