Veteran Russian diplomat resigns in Geneva over his country’s invasion Ukraine In a rare political protest from within the Russian foreign policy establishment.
“I have never felt ashamed of my country,” wrote Boris Bondarev, adviser at the Russian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva, in a public statement.
“Today the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is not about diplomacy,” the diplomat, a 20-year-old veteran of the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote. “It is all about war propaganda, lies and hate. It serves the interests of a few, a few and thus contributes to the further isolation and degeneration of my country. Russia has no allies left, and only one can blame it for its reckless and ill-considered policy.”
Bondarev is a high-ranking diplomat who has not publicly resigned from the Russian Foreign Ministry over the war that began in February. Bondarev confirmed in a phone interview with the Guardian that he wrote the statement and submitted his letter of resignation on Monday.
“The decision was very simple,” Bondarev said. “When you see that your country is doing the worst of things and being a civil servant you are somehow connected to this, your decision is only to end your connection with the government. We should all be responsible. And I don’t want to take any responsibility for what I do not agree with.”
Bondarev posted the statement on his Facebook and LinkedIn accounts and also sent copies to diplomats and the media. He said he went into business on Monday, tendered his resignation and walked out.
“The decision was made on February 24. But it took some time to gather some resolve to make it,” he said.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of Geneva-based Human Rights Watch, described Bondarev as a “champion”.
“We are now calling on all other Russian diplomats at the United Nations – and around the world – to follow his moral example and resign,” he said.
Neuer also called for Bondarev to be allowed to speak at this week’s Davos Forum, a gathering of the world’s political and business elite in a mountain resort in Switzerland.
Bondarev’s statement was also confirmed by Russian media outlet Kommersant, which said that it “also knows the names of several other diplomats who resigned from the Russian Foreign Ministry after the start of the” special military operation” in Ukraine, but almost none of them made public statements about this. “.
Bondarev, arms control adviser at the Russian diplomatic mission in Geneva, said other Russian diplomats had similar feelings about the war but were unlikely to speak up.
“There are people who think the way I do and see the situation as it is,” he said. But I don’t know if some of them will follow my example. I don’t think there will be much.”
He said he had not received any response so far from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs after handing him his resignation letter on Monday.
“I do not know what it is [Russian] The reaction will be.” “I don’t know what to do either. There are no plans.”
Asked if he had sought asylum outside Russia, he said: “I think if someone offered to help in this difficult situation, I think it would be accepted with great gratitude.”
Regarding returning to Russia, he said it “would not be a very good idea at the moment”.
In his public statement, Bondarev targeted senior officials such as Vladimir Putin and Sergey Lavrov, calling the Russian foreign minister a “good example of the deterioration of the regime.”
“Putin’s war of aggression against Ukraine, and in fact 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 in the center of all hopes and prospects for a free and prosperous society in our country.”
“Those who have conceived this war want only one thing – to remain in power forever, to live in pompous and tasteless palaces, Sailing on yachts similar in tonnage And the cost of the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.” “To achieve this they are ready for it. Sacrifice lives as necessary. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this. ”
Bondarev is a career diplomat who has worked in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2002. He has served as a consultant on nonproliferation for nearly a decade, first in Moscow and then at the Permanent Mission of Russia to the United Nations and other international organizations in Geneva.
During that time, he said, he remained a diplomat even as relations with the West deteriorated because he felt there was “room for diplomacy, some space to get back to normal somehow.”
He continued, “But now after February 24, we have just jumped into the abyss and there can be no return to normal, no return anywhere.” “Today of course we can see that there can be no negotiations, it is only all-out war.”
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