Crack in West’s Crimea Policy
Radev’s opponents often accused him of being pro-Russian throughout his first five-year mandate.
Radev won the second round of Bulgaria’s presidential elections with 66.7 per cent of the vote, defeating Anastas Gerdzhikov by 31.8 per cent.
The U.S. Embassy in Sofia announced on Monday that “the U.S. is deeply concerned by the recent statements of Bulgarian President Rumen Radev in which he referred to Crimea as Russian.”
“The U.S., G7, E.U., and NATO have all been clear and united in our position that, despite Russia’s attempted annexation and ongoing occupation, Crimea is Ukraine,” the Embassy said.
“All of us, including Bulgaria, declared at the Crimea Platform Summit in August that Crimea is an integral part of Ukraine and that we do not and will not recognize Russia’s efforts to legitimize its illegal seizure and occupation of the peninsula. In recent days we have communicated our deep concern to the Bulgarian government in Washington and Sofia.
Radev was pushed to declare his view on Crimea at the sole televised discussion he had with Gerdzhikov on Thursday (18 November). Radev began by claiming that Western sanctions on Russia had had no effect. “For many years, there has been no change in Russia’s policy. A more pragmatic policy is needed,” he said.
“For the time being, Crimea is Russian,” Radev said after a brief interruption by his opponent. Isn’t it?”