March 24, 2023

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'I've never been ashamed before': Russian envoy criticizes war

‘I’ve never been ashamed before’: Russian envoy criticizes war

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – A veteran Russian diplomat at the United Nations office in Geneva said he handed in his resignation before sending a harsh message to his foreign colleagues against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “war of aggression” in Ukraine.

Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter he delivered Monday morning after a diplomatic official sent his English-language statement to the Associated Press.

Referring to the history of the Russian invasion, he wrote: “Over the course of my twenty years of diplomacy I have seen various shifts in our foreign policy, but I have never felt as ashamed of my country as on February 24 this year.”

The resignation amounts to a rare – if not unprecedented – public admission of discontent with Russia’s war in Ukraine among members of the Russian diplomatic corps. It comes at a time when Putin’s government has sought to quell dissent over the invasion and quell narratives that conflict with the Russian government’s position on how the “special military operation” – as it is officially known in Russia – should work.

“Putin’s aggressive war against Ukraine, and indeed 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 centered,” Bondarev wrote, noting the widespread use of the letter “Z” as a symbol. To support Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Contacted by phone, Bondarev – a diplomatic advisor who focused on Russia’s role in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva after his appointments to places like Cambodia and Mongolia – confirmed that he had tendered his resignation in a letter to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov.

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A spokesperson for the mission did not immediately respond to AP requests for comment.

“What my government is doing now is intolerable,” Bondarev told the Associated Press. “As a government employee, I have to take part of the responsibility for that. And I don’t want to do that.”

Bondarev said he had not received any reaction so far from Russian officials, but added: “Am I worried about a possible reaction from Moscow? I should be concerned about it.”

He told the Associated Press he had no plans to leave Geneva. Previously, he said that he had expressed his disapproval of the war to his Russian colleagues.

“Some said, ‘Everyone disagrees, but we have to keep working,'” he recalls, “while others answered ‘Shut up and stop spreading that bad influence – especially among young diplomats.'”

Asked if some colleagues felt the same way, Bondarev said: “Not all Russian diplomats promote war. They are logical, but they should keep their mouths shut.”

He suggested that his case become an example.

“If my case is sued, then if others want to continue, they won’t,” Bondarev said.

When asked if he plans to defect, he laughed and said, “I haven’t thought yet” about the future.

In his English-language statement, which he said he emailed to about 40 diplomats and others, Bondarev said those who envisioned war “want only one thing – to remain in power forever, to live in mansions of tasteless pomp, to sail on yachts similar in tonnage.” .and the cost of the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.”

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He denounced the growing “lies and unprofessionalism” in the Russian Foreign Ministry and directed in particular to Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov.

“In 18 years, he (Lavrov) has gone from a professional and educated intellectual … to a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world with nuclear weapons!” he wrote. Today, the (Russian) Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not concerned with diplomacy. It’s all about war promotion, lies and hate.”

Heller Neuer, executive director of the advocacy group UN Watch, Tweet a copy of Bondarev’s speech He simply said: “Boris Bondarev is a hero.”

“Bondarev should be invited to speak in Davos this week,” he added, referring to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “The United States, the United Kingdom, and (the European Union) should lead the free world in creating a program to encourage more Russian diplomats to follow and defect, by providing protection, financial security, and resettlement to diplomats and their families.

In his email, Bondarev wrote that he should have quit earlier, but did not do so due to “some unfinished family business” and because he needed to “gather my resolve”.

He wrote: “It has already been three months since my government launched a bloody attack on Ukraine, and it was very difficult to keep my sanity more or less when it was all about losing him.”


Follow the AP’s coverage of the war at