A Russian diplomat on Monday issued a rare public rebuke of President Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine, resigning in protest of the invasion which has killed more than 3,000 civilians, displaced more than six million, and garnered worldwide condemnation.
Boris Bondarev, a longtime diplomat to the United Nations in Geneva who has worked on disarmament issues, confirmed in a letter to his colleagues that he had resigned from his position, writing that he “simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless, and absolutely needless ignominy.”
“Those who conceived this war want only one thing—to remain in power forever… enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.”
“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,” Bondarev wrote.
He called the war “a crime against the Ukrainian people” as well as one that will do harm to the people of Russia, “with a bold letter Z crossing out all hopes and prospects for a prosperous and free society in our country.” The letter Z has been used in Russia to symbolize support for the invasion, which the government refers to publicly only as a “special military operation.”
“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,” Bondarev said. “To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes.”
In addition to thousands of Ukrainians, Russia’s war has killed hundreds of young Russian soldiers by the government’s own admission, and tens of thousands according to Ukrainian officials.
Some families of soldiers have spoken out against the war since it began in February, but a law adopted days after the invasion criminalized anti-war protests, criticism of Russian military action, and the spread of so-called “false information” about the war.
Thousands of Russians have been arrested for protesting the war and a number of journalists have been charged with spreading “false information” about the war. Government employees were reportedly told they would be fired if they didn’t attend a pro-war rally in March.
“Am I concerned about the possible reaction from Moscow?” Bondarev said to the Associated Press Monday. “I have to be concerned about it.”
Earlier this month, the consul general of Russia in Edinburgh, Andrey Yakovlev, wrote in an Instagram post that he “categorically condemn[ed]” the war.
Russian journalist Farida Rustamova reported in March that several Kremlin officials were “privately denouncing” the invasion.
“Many understand that this is a mistake, but in the course of doing their duty they come up with explanations in order to somehow come to terms with it,” Rustamova wrote.
Bondarev said Monday that he “had to gather [his] resolve” before resigning.
Putin’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “is not about diplomacy” any longer, the diplomat added. “It is all about warmongering, lies, and hatred.”
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