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Russian special envoy to Bulgaria requesting Moscow to close its embassy after mass expulsion

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Tsvetelia Tsolova and Andrew Osborn

Sofia —Russian Ambassador to Bulgaria asks Sofia on Friday to close the Balkan embassies in Moscow He said he would request it. She called for an unprecedented hostile step to expel 70 Russian diplomatic staff, but was ignored.

In a statement to the Bulgarian people, Ambassador Eleonora Mitrofanova said that the closure of the Russian embassy would inevitably lead to the closure of the Bulgarian embassy in Moscow.

Bulgaria, a member of the EU and NATO and once a close ally of Russia, announced on Tuesday the expulsion of 70 Russian diplomatic staff on espionage by Prime Minister Kiril Petkov. , I was caught up in diplomatic tensions.

Following the sharp deterioration of relations over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, this move is Sophia's greatest expulsion of Russian diplomats in history and the diplomatic footprint of Moscow in Bulgaria. I halved the size. ..

Thursday's Mitrofanova told Sophia to overturn the decision by noon on Friday or face the prospect of Moscow ending its physical diplomatic presence in Bulgaria altogether.

Early on Friday, Petkov rejected her last.

"Unfortunately, our appeal against the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has been ignored," Mitrofanova said in her statement.

"I will immediately put the issue of the closure of the Russian embassy in Bulgaria in front of the leaders of my country, which inevitably puts Bulgarian diplomacy in Moscow. It means the closure of the delegation, "she wrote.

In Moscow, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov to reporters, Russian Foreign Ministry to study the idea of ​​embassy closure and, if necessary, President Vladimir Putin He said he would report.

'Free Bulgaria' Says No to Ultimatum

Petkov asks the Russian government to withdraw the ultimatum, a diplomatic channel despite the expulsion he said he is still leaving Russia has 43 diplomatic staff, who said it is important to keep the ultimatum open, while Bulgaria in Moscow has 12.

"Our diplomatic relations should continue. There is history. Our people are friendly people. However, some diplomats give a final notice to independent free Bulgaria. No country thinks it can be given, "Petkov told the Russian Interfax news agency.

At the beginning of Friday, the EU called Russia's ultimatum to Bulgaria "injustice."

About 60 people gathered in front of the Russian embassy in Sofia on Friday demonstrated against the government's decision to expel Russian diplomatic staff.

Proponents of Petkov's decision are planning a rally on Sunday at Sofia Airport, where 70 Russian diplomatic staff and their families will leave the country.

Petkov has traditional cultural, linguistic and historical ties to Russia, against Russia, against Russia, the country that was Moscow's most loyal satellite in Eastern Europe during the communist era. It has shown a very strong attitude.

He dismissed the Defense Minister in February for refusing to call what Russia described as a "special military operation" against Ukraine a "war."

Petkov also upheld EU sanctions on Moscow, refused to pay the ruble for Russia's gas supply, welcomed Ukrainian refugees, and Bulgaria repaired Ukrainian military hardware. I agreed. (Report by Tsvetelia Tsolova and Andrew Osborn Additional report by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber editing by Nick Macfie)