Bulgarian specialised units destroyed a drone with an 82mm high-explosive mortar attached to it on September 18, which, according to Defence Minister Todor Tagarev, was used in the Russian war in Ukraine.
This is the first drone with mortar discovered on Bulgarian territory since the start of the war, although neighbouring Romania has reported finding three Russian drones on its territory.
The drone was discovered in the northern Black Sea coastal village of Tyulenovo by a local citizen in the evening of September 17, and immediately reported to the authorities.
“Tyulenovo is not the centre of the world but when Ukrainian-Russian drones land on our coast… things become different. This bomb is still active,” Radoslav Rusev wrote on Facebook and posted a photo.
He also accused the authorities of not reacting immediately.
Tagarev said that the drone was not disabled during the night as this would have risked the safety of the special unit. The team was sent in the early morning of September 18 to disable it.
“The assessment of the risk indicated that there was no need to act during the night as this would have increased the risk for the team, therefore we acted when there was light,” Tagarev told reporters as broadcasted by Dnevnik news outlet.
Tagarev said that “it can be assumed that [the drone] is connected to the war that Russia started against Ukraine” and said that he had only preliminary information and cannot provide more details.
He added that the drone was not unexpected as Bulgaria is not far from Ukraine.
“We know that Russia is bombing Ukrainian ports, which are only a few hundred metres from Romanian territory. There are cases of fallen remains of drones and other ammunitions on Romanian territory. We have no reason to think that this war will bypass us. Yes, there are risks for Bulgaria,” Tagarev said.
Tagarev, a member of the pro-Western government of Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov, has been strong supporter of Ukraine since the Russian invasion.
However, he said that Bulgaria has not been able to determine whether the drone was launched by Russia or by Ukraine as the team decided to destroy both the drone and the attached mine on the spot. He added during a hearing in parliament the defence ministry will try to determine where the drone could have come from.
He also told lawmakers that the drone fell in the sea and brought up by the tide. He did not specify how long the drone had spent in the water. The authorities cannot determine why the drone fell.
Tagarev also said that in the first seven months of 2023, defence ministry teams destroyed 127 different types of floating ammunition from the war in Ukraine.