A Russian diplomat, Russia’s Counselor to the United Nations in Geneva Boris Bondarev, has quit his position and abandoned his country, citing his disapproval of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. He is one of the few Russian officials who have resigned over disapproval of Putin’s war. The most recent ones are Putin’s adviser Anatoly Chubais and former Gazprombank Vice President Igor Volobuev.
The diplomat has since been hailed as a “hero” for standing up against his country and voicing out his true thoughts regarding the bloody war in Ukraine, which has dragged on for four months.
“For twenty years of my diplomatic career, I have seen different turns of our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year,” Bondarev said in a statement.
“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 but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the people of Russia, with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous free society in our country,” he added.
Bondarev goes on to admit that the Russian elite who had been genuinely supporting the invasion of Ukraine was only chasing one thing, and that was to “remain in power forever,” stating that these people only wanted to live in “pompous tasteless palaces” and “sail on yachts” many of whom enjoy complete impunity.
“To achieve that, they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.”
He also revealed that the Russian Foreign Ministry’s level of lies has been increasing “all the time” and that he had seen this personally for the past 20 years he had been working within the Russian bureaucracy. However, he emphasized that it was only in recent years that the lies had become “catastrophic” by spreading “propaganda cliches in the spirit of Soviet newspapers of the 1930s.” Bondarev describes this phenomenon as “a system built that deceives itself.”
Bondarev cites Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov as a good example of how the Russian Foreign Ministry and Russia’s system itself degraded throughout the years. Lavrov was said to be an intellectual who was well respected in Russia but has transformed into a propaganda machine that threatens the world with nuclear weapons.
Perhaps most striking in his letter was how he described Russia and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bondarev uses words such as “warmongering,” “lies,” and “hatred” to describe his country, words which you would never hear a Russian official saying otherwise, they would simply get knocked off the post and possibly jailed. He further described the war as a “bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy” and said that he could no longer support Putin’s war.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies, and hatred. It serves interests of few, the very few people, thus contributing to further isolation and degradation of my country,” Bondarev said.
“Russia no longer has allies, and there is no one to blame but its reckless and ill-conceived policy,” he added.
“I studied to be a diplomat and have been a diplomat for twenty years. The Ministry has become my home and family. But I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless, and absolutely needless ignominy.”
A report by The Guardian reveals that it took Bondarev a few months to gather courage and come out with his true thoughts. He said that the invasion of Ukraine was “totally different,” which pushed him to quit. He also added that several of his colleagues were also against the war but was not very vocal about it as Russia has not been the best employer in recent months, with news of Putin purging the FSB for their supposed failure in collecting intel that led to the invasion of Ukraine.
“Russia attacked another country. This is Ukraine, who we always considered to be our brothers, and attacked them in the most brutal manner. Bombing cities. Claiming them to be Nazis and denazified. It’s something ridiculous. It’s something unimaginable.”
In various interviews with news outlets, he expressed his regret and admitted that he was partly responsible for what had happened with Ukraine as he was part of the Russian government for many years.
“It is intolerable what my government is doing now,” he told the Associated Press. “As a civil servant, I have to carry a share of responsibility for that. And I don’t want to do that.”
Currently, he is based in Geneva and has no plans to leave as he fears for his life. However, he was asked whether he would officially defect from Russia, to which he said that he had not thought about it so far.
United Nations Watch Executive Director Hillel Neuer hailed Bondarev’s resignation, tweeting that he saluted the Russian diplomat for doing the right thing and that he should be granted immediate protection by the Swiss Government.
“UN Watch is now calling on all other Russian diplomats at the United Nations—and worldwide—to follow his moral example and resign.”
In response, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov stated that Bondarev is “no longer with us” and that Bondarev was “against us.”
“The Kremlin is not familiar with this letter. If he was an employee of the Foreign Ministry, then this is a question to the MFA [Ministry of Foreign Affairs],” Peskov said.
“He has a position in which he condemns the actions of the Russian leadership, and the actions of the Russian leadership are supported by almost the entire population of our country. This means that this gentleman spoke out against the general consolidated opinion of our country.”