Ukraine-Russia war: Bulgarian DM dismissed for calling Russian invasion an 'operation'

"My defense minister cannot use the word operation instead of the word war," Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov said.

Then-caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev looks on during an official ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 12, 2021 (photo credit: REUTERS/STOYAN NENOV)
Then-caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev looks on during an official ceremony in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 12, 2021
(photo credit: REUTERS/STOYAN NENOV)

Bulgarian prime minister Kiril Petkov said on Monday he would sack defense minister Stefan Yanev following his reluctance to describe the Russian invasion of Ukraine as a war prompted calls for his removal.

Petkov said the centrist coalition government will have a meeting later on Monday to vote on Yanev's dismissal, when he would also propose a new defense minister. Petkov said all coalition partners have agreed to Yanev's sacking.

"My defense minister cannot use the word operation instead of the word war. You cannot call it an operation when thousands of soldiers from the one and the other side are already killed," Petkov said in a televised statement.

"The Bulgarian interest is not in bending our heads down...When we see something we do not agree with, something so obvious, we cannot keep quiet," Petkov said.

In a Facebook post late on Sunday, Yanev wrote that he was the subject of a targeted attack aimed at replacing him with someone who would be more open to taking decisions that serve foreign interests, which could put Bulgaria's security at risk.

 European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Bulgaria's Prime Minister Kiril Petkov meet at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, December 17, 2021 (credit:  REUTERS/JOHANNA GERON) European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Bulgaria's Prime Minister Kiril Petkov meet at the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, December 17, 2021 (credit: REUTERS/JOHANNA GERON)

Petkov slammed Yanev's statement saying neither of his ministers had the right for "their own foreign policy, especially on Facebook" nor to believe that their staying in office is directly linked to the stability of the government.

Petkov said European Union and NATO member Bulgaria is not forced to take any decisions by its Western allies but stressed that the biggest guarantee for the Black Sea country's security lies in standing united with its European Union peers.

In December, Petkov was forced to explain that Bulgaria has not yet discussed the deployment of NATO troops in the country in response to the build-up of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border after Yanev posted on Facebook that he believed such troops were not needed