Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev resigns, blasts war in Ukraine

Boris Bondarev criticised the ‘aggressive war unleashed’ by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Swiss army soldiers stand guard outside the Russian Mission in Geneva, Switzerland
Bondarev worked as a counsellor at Russia's permanent mission to the UN in Geneva [File: Denis Balibouse/Reuters]

A veteran Russian diplomat to the United Nations office in Geneva has handed in his resignation and sent a statement to foreign colleagues criticising the “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Boris Bondarev, who worked as a counsellor at Russia’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva, told the Reuters news agency: “I went to the mission like any other Monday morning and I forwarded my resignation letter and I walked out.”

In the statement, circulated to a number of diplomatic missions in Geneva, he condemned the invasion of Ukraine and lashed out at Russia’s foreign ministry.

“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 the statement first published by UN Watch, an advocacy group.

Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev
An image taken with permission from the passport photo page of Russian diplomat Boris Bondare [Boris Bondarev via AP Photo]

The date refers to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in what Russian President Vladimir Putin describes as a “special military operation” to “de-nazify” the country.

“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,” the statement said.

There was no immediate comment from the Russian permanent mission to the UN.

Bondarev, 41, said he had worked with the Russian ministry of foreign affairs for two decades, and had worked as counsellor at the country’s mission in Geneva since 2019.

The resignation represents a rare protest from a Russian diplomat as dissenting and critical voices, especially of Moscow’s narrative of the war, have been swiftly cracked down on.

“Those who conceived this 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 said in the statement.

The diplomat did not spare harsh criticism of Russia’s foreign ministry and its chief, Sergey Lavrov, who has been a staunch defender of Putin’s military operation: “In 18 years, he went from a professional and educated intellectual, whom many of my colleagues held in such high esteem, to a person who constantly broadcasts conflicting statements and threatens the world (that is, Russia too) with nuclear weapons!

“Today, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy. It is all about warmongering, lies and hatred,” he added.

The diplomat told the Associated Press news agency that 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.”

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.

Hillel Neur, UN Watch executive director praised Bondarev’s move and urged other Russian diplomats at the UN “to follow his moral example and resign”.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies