Russian diplomat to the United Nations, Boris Bondarev, resigns over Putin’s war in Ukraine

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A diplomat at the Russian mission to the United Nations in Geneva resigned over the war in Ukraine, writing that he had never felt “ashamed” of his country, in a rare public rebuke of the war from within the Russian government.

In a letter circulated to colleagues in Geneva and Posted on LinkedIn with his name Also on Facebook, Boris Bondarev, an advisor at the Russian Federation’s permanent mission to the United Nations, said he left the civil service on Monday.

In reference to the start date of the invasion, he wrote: “Throughout my twenty years of diplomatic career, I have seen various shifts in our foreign policy, but I have never felt as ashamed of my country as it happened on February 24 of this year,” referring to the start date of the invasion.

“Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but perhaps also the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a capital letter Z in the center of all hopes and prospects for a free and prosperous society in our country.”

The scathing message is one of the most prominent criticisms of the war — and its architects — that comes from within the Russian government. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made clear that dissent will not be tolerated, saying in March that the Russian people can distinguish “true patriots from scum and traitors.”

Anatoly Chubais, Putin’s special representative for sustainable development, resigned and left Russia in March, but he has not commented publicly on the reasons for his departure.

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Russian officials have not yet commented on the case. But critics of the war can face punishment under Laws that make it a crime To spread “false information” about the Russian military, including by calling the war a war, rather than a “special operation” – Putin’s preferred term.

Bondarev, contacted by the Associated Press by phone, confirmed that he had submitted his resignation in a letter addressed to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov. He told the Associated Press he had no plans to leave Geneva.

Bondarev directly targeted the ruling class in Russia. He wrote: “Those who conceived of this war want only one thing – to remain in power forever, to live in tasteless luxurious mansions, to sail on yachts similar in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, to enjoy unlimited power and complete impunity.”

“To achieve this, they are willing to sacrifice the lives of as many lives as possible,” the letter continued. “Already thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have died for this.”

that Online guide The United Nations in Geneva lists Bondarev as an adviser to the Russian Federation mission. The LinkedIn profile says he specializes in arms control, disarmament and nonproliferation, and notes that he has been in his current position since 2019.

The final section of his letter recalls the ministry he worked for, and concerns Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who he cites as an example of the decline of Russian diplomacy.

Lavrov wrote, “He went from a professional and educated intellectual, whom many of my colleagues held in high esteem, to a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world (that is, Russia too) with nuclear weapons!”

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Today’s ministry is “not about diplomacy” but “to stir up wars, lies and hate.”

Bondarev’s public resignation led to calls for other Russian officials to follow suit.

“Boris Bondarev is a hero,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based NGO, which distributed a copy of the Russian diplomat’s message on Twitter. “We are now calling on all other Russian diplomats at the United Nations – and around the world – to follow his moral example and resign.”

“This is an incredible letter below from a senior Russian diplomat condemning Putin in unequivocal terms,” Bill Browder, founder of Hermitage Capital and a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, wrote on Twitter.

“This is the language all Russian officials and oligarchs must use if they have any chance of being kind to the West.”

Bondarev’s letter concluded with a farewell to the ministry – and a nod to his somewhat precarious state.

The ministry became my home and my family. But I simply can no longer take part in this bloody, useless and wholly needless shame,” he wrote, adding, “We welcome job offers…”

Annabelle Timsit in London and Robin Dixon in Riga contributed to this report.

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