Bulgaria’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) has announced a tender for Russian and Belarusian state-owned companies to overhaul its Su-25 close air support aircraft, marking the latest in a decade’s worth of false starts and reversals plaguing Bulgaria’s efforts to replace aging Communist-era equipment. It also raises the question of whether US and NATO leaders are doing enough to support Bulgaria’s transition into the Western alliance. The short answer? No.Ever since its accession to NATO in 2004, Bulgaria has struggled to bring its defense capabilities in line with alliance standards and ensure compatibility with other NATO militaries. Its fleet consists mostly of Soviet-era Su-25s and MiG-29s. NATO requires Bulgaria maintain at least one squadron of twelve planes in fighting shape; out of 16 aircraft in the Bulgarian Air Force, only seven meet that standard.Successive Bulgarian governments have faced the dilemma of either pouring money into repairing Soviet-era equipment or buying unaffordable replacements from NATO partners. Sourcing parts and maintenance from Russia creates an inherently vulnerable supply chain.Just as with its aircraft, Bulgaria’s energy decisions have left it torn between Russian and Western partners. While Radev and Borissov solicit Putin’s partnership on gas pipelines and Belene, Bulgaria is simultaneously seeking to wind down long standing cooperation agreements with Western power plant operators AES and ContourGlobal.