11:11 Nov. 4, 2016
"The threat now is less about Russian tanks invading Europe and more about Russian influence dividing the Continent"
Russia is trying to divide and weaken Europe amid a "dangerous and unpredictable" international confrontation, Bulgarian President Rosen Plevneliev warned in an interview with the BBC.
Plevneliev, who will step down in January, also said his country had come under a cyber attack during a referendum and local elections last year, which he said was almost certainly linked to Russia.
Europe has not returned to the Cold War, the Bulgarian president believes, but instead is involved in a new "dangerous and unpredictable" confrontation which he calls "Cold Peacetime".
The threat now is less about Russian tanks invading Europe and more about Russian influence dividing the Continent, he argues.
"The game in Europe today is not to have a full-scale war and to shoot against your enemy, but the game of Mr Putin is to make other countries dependent," he said.
"What today Russia is trying to achieve is to weaken Europe, to divide Europe and to make us dependent," Bulgarian President said.
Plevneliev believes Russia's main tools across Europe include the funding of populist political parties and movements from the political extremes, extensive propaganda and also cyber attacks to destabilise opponents.
Last October, Bulgaria was subject to a major cyber attack. "That was the most heaviest and intense cyber attack that has been conducted in south-east Europe," he said.
"I consider it an attack on the Bulgarian democracy," he told the BBC, arguing it was designed to cause confusion around results, something which some in the US fear could be possible in their elections next Tuesday also.