Russian diplomat at UN resigns, says he’s ashamed of his country: NPR


Last year, the United Nations flag flew in the wind atop a UN building in Geneva, Switzerland. A senior Russian diplomat at the United Nations Office in Geneva says he tendered his resignation before sending a scathing letter to his foreign colleagues protesting against the “war of aggression unleashed” by President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Markus Schreiber/AP


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Russian diplomat at UN resigns, says he's ashamed of his country: NPR

Last year, the United Nations flag flew in the wind atop a UN building in Geneva, Switzerland. A senior Russian diplomat at the United Nations Office in Geneva says he tendered his resignation before sending a scathing letter to his foreign colleagues protesting against the “war of aggression unleashed” by President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Markus Schreiber/AP

DAVOS, Switzerland – A senior Russian diplomat at the United Nations Office at Geneva says he tendered his resignation before sending a scathing letter to foreign colleagues denouncing the “war of aggression unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin in Ukraine.

Boris Bondarev, 41, confirmed his resignation in a letter delivered Monday morning after a diplomatic official gave his statement in English to The Associated Press.

“During twenty years of my diplomatic career, I have seen different turning points in our foreign policy, but never have I been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year,” he wrote, alluding on the date of the Russian invasion.

The resignation amounts to a rare – if not unprecedented – public admission of dissatisfaction with Russia’s war in Ukraine among the Russian diplomatic corps. This comes at a time when Putin’s government has sought to suppress dissent over the invasion and suppress narratives that conflict with the Russian government’s line on how the “special military operation” will unfold – as it is officially called in Russia.

“The war of aggression unleashed by Putin against Ukraine, and indeed against the entire Western world, is not only a crime against the Ukrainian people, but also, perhaps, the most serious crime against the Russian people, with a bold letter Z crossing all hopes and prospects for a prosperous and free society in our country,” Bondarev wrote, referring to the widespread use of the letter “Z” as a symbol of support for Russia’s war in Ukraine.

Reached by phone, Bondarev – a diplomatic adviser who focused on Russia’s role in the Disarmament Conference in Geneva after serving in places like Cambodia and Mongolia – confirmed he had handed over his resignation in a letter to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov.

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

“It’s intolerable what my government is doing now,” Bondarev told the AP. “As a public servant, I have to take some responsibility for that. And I don’t want to do that.”

Bondarev said he had not yet received a reaction from Russian officials, but added: “Am I concerned about the possible reaction from Moscow? I have to be worried about that.”

He told the AP he had no intention of leaving Geneva. Earlier, he said he expressed his disapproval of the war to his Russian colleagues.

“Some said, ‘Not everyone agrees, but we have to keep working’, while others replied, ‘Shut up and stop spreading this bad influence, especially among young diplomats. “”, he recalls.

Asked if some colleagues felt the same way, Bondarev replied: “Not all Russian diplomats are warmongers. They are reasonable, but they have to keep quiet.”

He suggested that his case could become an example.

“If my case is prosecuted, then if other people want to follow, they won’t,” Bondarev said.

When asked if he was planning to defect, he laughed and said, “I hadn’t thought of that that far.”

In his English-language statement, which he says he emailed about 40 diplomats and others, Bondarev said those who engineered the war “only want one thing – to stay in power forever, to live in pompous and tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity. ”

He denounced the growing “lies and lack of professionalism” in the Russian Foreign Ministry and particularly attacked Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

“In 18 years, he (Lavrov) has gone from a professional and educated intellectual…to a person who constantly spreads contradictory statements and threatens the world with nuclear weapons!” he wrote. “Today the (Russian) Foreign Ministry is not about diplomacy. It’s about warmongering, lies and hatred.”

Hiller Neuer, executive director of advocacy group UN Watch, tweeted a copy of Bondarev’s letter and 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, offering protection, financial security and resettlement to diplomats and to their families.”

In his email, Bondarev wrote that he should have resigned earlier, but didn’t because of “some unfinished family business” and because he needed to “gather my resolve”. .

“It has already been three months since my government launched a bloody assault on Ukraine and it has been very difficult to keep my mind more or less sane as all of them are losing theirs,” he wrote.




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