In retrospect, it should have been obvious in August.
Back then we wrote that the EU’s poorest member nation, Bulgaria, had been an enthusiastic supporter of the Russian-backed South Stream gas pipeline project, whose construction has stoked tensions between the West and Moscow as it enabled gas supply to bypass troubled Ukraine (thus squeezing the desparate economy back into Russia’s hands). In early June, Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Plamen Oresharski ordered an initial halt (after Europe offered the nation’s suddenly collapsing banking system a lifeline). Subsequently, Energy Minister Vasil Shtonov has ordered Bulgaria’s Energy Holding to halt any actions in regards of the project as it does not meet the requirements of the European Commission.
And then, just to send Putin a very clear message where the allegiances of this former Soviet satellite nation lie, NATO deployed 12 F-15s and 180 troops to Bulgaria’s Graf Ignatievo Air Base.
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