The owner of a small sunflower oil factory in Bulgaria has filed a lawsuit against those accountable for the May 11, 2021 incident after US soldiers accidentally stormed his facility during a Nato military exercise last month.
Soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade had been taking part in a military training exercise in Cheshnegirovo that comprises simulated seizing and securing a decommissioned air base in southern Bulgaria by clearing bunkers and other structures.
The soldiers cleared out numerous bunkers in the airfield but things went south when they accidentally entered and cleared a building next to the airfield that they believed was part of the training area which turned out to be occupied by Bulgarian civilians operating a private business.
The US embassy in Bulgaria offered apologies to the business and its employees.
“No weapons were fired at any time during this interaction,” the statement said.
“We always learn from these exercises and are fully investigating the cause of this mistake,” the embassy said in a statement. “We will implement rigorous procedures to clearly define our training areas and prevent this type of incident in the future.”
But Bulgarian President Rumen Radev criticized the mistake, saying it put “the life and calm” of Bulgarian citizens at risk.
Radev said it was “absolutely unacceptable to have the life and calm of Bulgarian citizens put at risk by military units, be they part of the Bulgarian or foreign armed forces”.
“Exercises in Bulgarian territory involving our allies should boost the sense of security and trust in collective defense, instead of causing tension among Bulgarians.”