How Bulgaria Is Slowly Breaking Free of the Russian Gas-embrace

All it took was initiative for Sofia to realise the possibilities in the energy market

8 November 2022

Ognyan Georgiev

Marcin Król Fellow

Contrary to popular thinking, Bulgaria has never been dependent on Gazprom for resources. Nevertheless, the circumstances Bulgaria finds itself in today were difficult to predict earlier in the year, if not impossible, and as Sofia will conquer the winter without Russian gas for the first time in generations, new possibilities in the energy sector are emerging.

It was a momentous event in recent history. Standing in front of the journalists, Vice Prime Minister and Finance Minister Assen Vasilev announced that Bulgaria will not negotiate with Gazprom for gas deliveries since the Russian company has stopped fulfilling its part of the contract and the pipes were running on empty. The date was 27 April.

It is very hard, looking back, not to conclude that this seemed like the first domino in a series of events that brought down, in 2 months’ time, the coalition government of Kiril Petkov and Asen Vassilev. It would have looked impossible for any expert to predict that by the end of the year, with the winter approaching, Sofia would not be restarting talks with the Russians and begging for gas.

Yet, here we are, half a year (and a government) later, with gas deliveries still shut, Gazprom out of the picture and a new energy puzzle emerging. Bulgaria will try to go it alone this winter and break free of the Russian gas-fist for the first time in many, many decades. This is due, of course, to Moscow’s actions, as well as a slow shift in perception in Sofia. But it’s a watershed moment nonetheless.


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Ognyan Georgiev

Marcin Król Fellow

Marcin Król Fellow at Visegrad Insight. A long-time reporter and editor in the leading Bulgarian business publication Capital, and currently head Kapital Insights - the English language service for Bulgarian politics, business and economy. He follows regional development, economy, cities and European funding. Georgiev is a Robert Bosch Stiftung and Fulbright alumni, and spent a year in MIT, researching urban migration. Interests include city planning, urban migration and remigration to Central and Eastern Europe, as well as regional and intraregional development.


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