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The Russian request to Bulgaria for an overflight of “humanitarian aid” planes en route to Syria was part of a propaganda war the country is waging, a former Foreign Minister has said.

Solomon Passy, who was Bulgaria’s top diplomat between 2001 and 2005, told private bTV station on Tuesday he failed to understand why Russia had tried to use Bulgaria’s airspace to reach Syria, given that routes over Azerbaijan or over the Black Sea are more convenient.

“This corridor had a single goal – to be refused. This is part of Russia’s propaganda war [aimed at] showing how bad NATO is by refusing passage to a humanitarian convoy… This corridor has not logistic value whatsoever,” Passy argued.

Sofia cited information from domestic and partner foreign services about weapons on board the planes as a reason to ban the flight through its airspace.

Passy, who was the founding President and CEO of the Atlantic Club of Bulgaria in 1990, also refuted claims by Moscow Bulgaria had been pressured by NATO into refusing.