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Demonstrators gathered in front of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense where the US Secretary of Defense and the Bulgarian PM met, waving Bulgarian and Russian flags. They were heard chanting, "NATO Out."
U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin traveled to Bulgaria on Saturday, where he met with Prime Minister Kiril Petkov to discuss the Ukrainian crisis and apparently asked Sofia to provide military aid to Kiev. The Bulgarian PM said no.
The meeting took place while Bulgarian citizens took to the streets, demonstrating against giving its "few remaining weapons" to Ukraine and demanding the withdrawal of NATO from the country.
Demonstrators and activists gathered in front of the Bulgarian Ministry of Defense, where Austin and Petkov met for a joint press conference, waving Bulgarian and Russian flags. They were heard chanting, “NATO Out.”
People with Bulgarian and Russian flags take part in the protest at the Ministry of Defense of Bulgaria against military support for Ukraine. The banners say "No to sanctions against Russia," "Down with the US and NATO. pic.twitter.com/iLepjwbicJ
Similar protests took place in Rome and Piza, Italy, where activists of a major Italian trade union, USB, opposed sending weapons to Ukraine and called on the government to ditch NATO.
While many NATO members have pledged to pump Ukraine with weapons, the Bulgarian government has not been particularly supportive of the idea, with Petkov dismissing reports that Sofia discussed the topic as "fake news."
Bulgaria has been a member of NATO since 2004, when it along with several other Eastern European nations was welcomed into the alliance following the “Big Bang” enlargement round announced at the November 2002 Prague summit.