So far, there has been a remarkably successful American effort to contain Russia in Southeast Europe.
The most recent success of American diplomacy, overt and covert, has been the inclusion of the Republic of North Macedonia in NATO, which will make the country “Russian-proof,” so to say. Albania -and that includes all the areas with Albanian speakers in the wider region (Kosovo, Tetovo, etc.)- is under total American control: the two main Albanian parties continuously fight each other trying to prove who is more pro-American and more obedient to Washington than the other. This might explain the high degree of Western tolerance to the ever-growing drug business in that remote Balkan spot, also known as the Medellin of Europe. In Serbia, despite the heavy Russian presence in the country (where, according to well-informed sources, Vladimir Putin has deployed his own personal observer), the coalition government, while it maintains good relations with Moscow, is scrupulously keeping Russia out of the political making. This particularity is often misinterpreted by both sides of the Atlantic, as linear thinkers cannot understand real politics and thus cannot see that while Belgrade is keeping its bridges with Moscow alive for many reasons (economic, religious, etc.), Serbia remains the last country in Europe that Russia can use to reestablish its influence in Europe.
On the contrary, well-informed sources in the American capital claim that the country Washington mostly perceives as a potential danger for the Russians to create a strong foothold in Europe is Bulgaria.
When Boyko Borisov, leader of the GERB party, was first elected Prime Minister of Bulgaria in 2014, it happened with the blessings of Washington and Brussels. Borisov was expecting great help and support from his European and American friends, yet in vain. He was hopping that after his election to power, money would flow abundantly from the Union’s budget, but he soon realized that to get that money he needed to implement highly-sophisticated and very complicated procedures that he did not have the necessary structure in his administration to fulfil, an administration that could be described as meta-communist, whatever that implies. So, all these years Bulgaria was watching EU money over-flying Sofia but never landing there. On the contrary, quite often OLAF investigators would land in the Bulgarian capital looking into various mishandlings of the Union’s contributions.
The disappointment with Washington was even more bitter. Borisov though that, once elected, American investments would flood Bulgaria, that would translate into countless new jobs, development, prosperity and margins for all kinds of business. However, nobody explained to Mr Borishov that while the American President has the power to order the launch of his nukes at any time against any target, he has no power to order any American business (except for his own) to invest not even a single dollar in any country, including the USA, for any reason.
Time was passing with Bulgaria struggling to obtain EU funds and American investment, which, to present, have failed to come; as a result, and in the absence of progress, the climate in Bulgaria has recently radically changed, with the people explicitly expressing their discontent.
Borisov, heavily disappointed at his European and American friends, is now trying to find the solution to his problems in Moscow, offering Russia to build its missing European foothold, in Bulgaria.
Bulgaria was the best and most trusted satellite of the Soviet Union and it does not take much to restore relations. After all, the mentality in both sides is the same, as it takes several generations to change.
An example of the recent rekindling of Bulgarian-Russian relations seems to be the TurkStream pipeline, which will bring Russian energy to Turkey through the Black Sea. Bulgaria has already agreed for a pipeline to bring cheaper Russian energy via an undersea connector from Turkstream pipeline in Black Sea to Bulgaria and from there to Europe. To obtain Bulgaria’s accord, it seems that Russia has given considerable loans (about $ 600 million) to Bulgarian business concerns, that cannot be repaid. A win-win solution that is being considered at the moment is for the Russians to construct the pipeline to compensate for such loans.
Apparently, everything seems to be going smoothly, except for one minor detail. The Americans. Washington is reportedly furious with Borisov and has begun a silent destabilization process to bring new people in power in Bulgaria, eliminating all pro-Russian elements in the major political parties while, given the rapid deterioration of NATO-Turkey relations, marginalizing the role of pro-Turkey Movement for Rights and Freedoms (DPS) party in Bulgarian politics.
It is worth noting that an old graft allegation against Tsvetan Tsvetanov, who has been the standard interlocutor of the American administration for Bulgarian affairs, has been recently unshelved and brought to the surface for an umpteenth time. Tsvetanov was formerly the trusted number two of Boyko Borisov, both during his tenure as Mayor of Sofia and, until recently, in the government. Two weeks ago, he resigned his parliamentary seat and his chairmanship of the GERB parliamentary group, only a day after returning from Washington, where he participated in the AIPAC Policy Conference, among other high-level meetings.
In this context, two matters should be taken for granted. Americans will not tolerate any pro-Russian initiative in Southeast Europe and that it is specifically this kind of matters that Americans address effectively.