An experienced Russian diplomat at the United Nations office in Geneva says he tendered his resignation before sending a scathing letter to foreign colleagues opposing the “aggressive war unleashed” by President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.
Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning to the Russian diplomatic mission after a diplomatic official passed on his English-language statement to the Associated Press.
“Twenty years of my diplomatic career, I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but I have never felt more ashamed of my country than I was on February 24 of this year,” he wrote, referring to the date of the Russian invasion.
By phone, Bondarev – a diplomatic adviser focused on Russia’s role in the Geneva disarmament conference after reports in places like Cambodia and Mongolia – confirmed that he had tendered his resignation in a letter addressed to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov.
The resignation amounts to a rare – if not unprecedented – public admission of dismay at Russia’s war in Ukraine among Russia’s diplomatic corps at a time when Putin’s government has tried to quell dissent over the invasion and conflicting stories from the government line about how the “special military operation” is going.
“It is unacceptable what my government is doing now,” Bondarev told the AP.
“As a civil servant, I have to bear some responsibility for that, and I don’t want that.”
Bondarev said he had not yet received a response from Russian officials but added: “Am I concerned about the possible reaction from Moscow? I should be concerned.”
Asked if some colleagues thought the same, he added: “Not all Russian diplomats are belligerent. They are reasonable, but they should keep their mouths shut.”
He suggested that his case could become an example.
“If my case is prosecuted, and other people want to follow suit, they won’t,” he suggested.
In his English-language statement, which he emailed to about 40 diplomats and others, Bondarev said those who invented the war “want only one thing – to stay in power forever, to live in pompous tacky palaces, to sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost for the entire Russian navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.”
He protested the growing “lies and unprofessionalism” in the Russian Foreign Ministry, targeting Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in particular, who he said changed in “18 years from a professional and educated intellectual. .. contradictory statements and threatens the world (including Russia) with nuclear weapons!”.
“Today, the State Department is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies, and hatred.”
Bondarev told the AP he had no intention of leaving Geneva.
Hiller Neuer, executive director of the UN Watch advocacy group, said: “Boris Bondarev is a hero.”
“Bondarev should be invited to speak in Davos this week,” he added, “and the US, UK, and EU should lead the free world in setting up a program to encourage more Russian diplomats to and defecting, providing protection, financial security, and resettlement for diplomats and their families.”