A Russian diplomat to the UN office at Geneva has resigned and sent out a damning resignation letter claiming he has “never been so ashamed of my country” because of the invasion of Ukraine.
Boris Bondarev confirmed his resignation in a letter after an official passed on his statement to the Associated Press.
“For 20 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 24 February of this year,” he wrote, referencing the date of Russia’s invasion of its neighbour.
Reached by phone, Mr Bondarev – a diplomat who has focused on Russia’s role in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva after postings in places like Cambodia and Mongolia – confirmed he handed in his resignation in a letter addressed to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov. “Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred,” he said.
He also said he had no plans to leave Geneva.
The resignation amounts to a rare public admission of dismay about Russia’s war in Ukraine among the diplomatic corps, at a time when Vladimir Putin’s government has sought to crack down on dissent.
“It is intolerable what my government is doing now,” Mr Bondarev told the AP. “As a civil servant, I have to carry a share of responsibility for that, and I don’t want to do that.”
Mr Bondarev said he had not received any response 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.”
He suggested his case could become an example.
“If my case is prosecuted, then if other people want to follow, they would not,” he suggested. In his English-language statement, which he said he emailed to about 40 diplomats and others, Mr Bondarev said those who conceived the war “want only one thing – to remain in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity”.
He took particular aim at Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov, who he said had gone from “a professional and educated intellectual to a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world (Russia too) with nuclear weapons”.