By Ken Bredemeier
A veteran Russian diplomat to the United Nations office in Geneva resigned Monday because he said he was “so ashamed” of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine three months ago.
In a rare, but not unprecedented protest within the Russian diplomatic corps, Boris Bondarev, 41, handed in his resignation in a letter addressed to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov and then released a scathing denunciation of the Russian war effort.
“The aggressive war unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and in fact against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people,” Bondarev said, “but also perhaps the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z (signifying support for the war) crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country.”
Bondarev, who has focused on Russian disarmament issues in Geneva, contended “that those who conceived this war want only one thing — to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail in yachts comparable in tonnage and costs to the entire Russian navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.”
“To achieve that, Bondarev said, “they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.”
He said that during his 20 years as a Russian diplomat, including postings in Cambodia and Mongolia, “the level of lies and unprofessionalism in the Foreign Ministry has been increasing all the time.”
Bondarev attacked Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as a “good illustration of the degradation of this system,” someone who had fallen from a “professional and educated intellectual” held in “high esteem” by his diplomatic colleagues to “a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world (that is, Russia too) with nuclear weapons!”
“Russia no longer has allies,” he concluded, “and there is no one to blame but its reckless and ill-conceived policy. …. I cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy.”
Almost as an aside, he added, “Job offers are welcome.”
Bondarev told The Associated Press he had not received any reaction yet from Russian officials, but added, “Am I concerned about the possible reaction from Moscow? I have to be concerned about it.”
Asked if some colleagues felt the same, he added, “Not all Russian diplomats are warmongering. They are reasonable, but they have to keep their mouths shut.”
Russia has cracked down on protests against the Ukraine invasion, arresting street protesters, curbing media criticism and approving up to 15-year prison terms for those spreading “false information” about the invasion, including calling it a war instead of a “special military operation.”