Bulgaria denies reports of providing Su-25 jets to Ukraine

The Bulgarian Ministry of Defense has denied selling Sukhoi Su-25 attack aircraft to a third country so that the jets could later be supplied to Ukraine.  

According to BNT News, the Bulgarian MoD explicitly denied selling or giving away the country’s fleet of Su-25s during a media briefing.   

OFFNews, another Bulgarian news website, reported that when it inquired about the whereabouts of the Bulgarian Air Force’s Su-25s, the MoD responded that all aircraft are currently at the country’s Bezmer air base.

Numerous sources had previously reported that Bulgaria, which has 14 Su-25 aircraft of which seven are reportedly active, sold the jets to an unnamed NATO country, which later shipped them to Ukraine in disassembled state.   

The scheme was reported by Bloomberg, which referred to Oryx, a notable open-source intelligence blog which tracks the supply of military aid to Ukraine.   

Reports that Ukraine received 14 Su-25s from an unnamed Eastern European country first appeared in journal Foreign Policy in May 2022.

They may have referred to earlier statements made by US Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, who said that Ukraine received additional aircraft and their parts and was able to increase its aircraft fleet. The Ukrainian Air Force later contradicted the statement, saying that only spare parts were received.

The connection between the shipment of Su-25s and Bulgaria was first made by Polish defense news publication Defence24.pl, which stated that the aircraft were disassembled and delivered by land. Although Defense24.pl does not claim the aircraft were specifically Bulgarian, it did infer that Bulgaria is the most likely source of the jets.  

Despite Russia’s claims of shooting down significantly more Ukrainian Su-25s than were operated by the country’s air force before the war, the type has featured prominently in combat footage recorded throughout the war, conducting ground attack missions on the frontline, and indicating that the Ukrainian Air Force is still operating significant quantities of the type.

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