U.S. Has 'Deep Concern' Over Bulgarian President Supporting Russia's Annexation of Crimea

The U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria voiced its "deep concern" over Bulgarian President Rumen Radev's recent comments addressing the Crimean Peninsula as a part of Russia instead of Ukraine, the Associated Press reported.

A day after Radev secured his second term as president in a runoff election, Radev drew criticism from the country's main NATO partner on Monday after the questionable comments.

In a presidential debate last Thursday with Radev's opponent Anastas Gerdzhikov, Radev insisted on having pragmatic ties with Russia, and that the European Union should restore its dialogue with Moscow.

"The sanctions that were imposed because of Crimea and Ukraine are not yielding results," Radev said. Radev went on to say the Crimean Peninsula was "currently Russian," adding, "What else can it be?"

Radav's statement during the debate has already prompted protests from the Ukrainian government, as the Crimea Peninsula was annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014, but NATO and the European Union still consider it to be part of Ukraine.

The United States also made a statement on the issue, claiming that they too believe Crimea is Ukraine's.

"The United States, G-7, European Union, and NATO have all been clear and united in our position that, despite Russia's attempted annexation and ongoing occupation, Crimea is Ukraine," the U.S. 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," the statement said.

The annex issues arising in Russia and Ukraine are only a part of the issues facing the countries currently as Russia is continuing to leave troops stationed at the Ukraine border and creating further unease.

Russian officials continue to blame the West for the migrant crisis along its borders, President Valdimar Putin warning that Western nations were using events to stir unrest near Russia's borders through neglecting their own responsibilities.

"It is also impossible to ignore that Western countries are using the migration crisis on the Belarus-Poland border as a new reason for tension in a region close to us, for putting pressure on Minsk, while at the same time forgetting their own humanitarian commitments," Putin said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Bulgarian President Rumen Radev
The U.S. Embassy in Bulgaria voiced its “deep concern” over Bulgarian President Rumen Radev’s recent comments addressing the Crimean Peninsula as a part of Russia instead of Ukraine. Above, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev speaks to journalists after the end of election day in Sofia on November 21, 2021. Valentina Petrova/Associated Press

Bulgaria is very divided in its loyalties. While it belongs to NATO and the EU, many Bulgarians still feel a cultural and historical affinity with Russia. The Black Sea country remains heavily dependent on Russian energy and has been exposed to growing tensions between Russia and the West.

With nearly all ballots counted, Radev had 66 percent of the votes in the runoff election, the country's central electoral commission said on Monday.

His opponent, Anastas Gerdzhikov, conceded defeat and congratulated Radev, who will begin his second term on January 22.

A NATO flag is pictured
"The United States, G-7, European Union, and NATO have all been clear and united in our position that, despite Russia's attempted annexation and ongoing occupation, Crimea is Ukraine," the U.S. embassy said. Above, a NATO flag is pictured. KENZO TRIBOUILLARD/AFP via Getty Images