“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, referring to on the date the invasion was launched.
“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 free and prosperous society in our country.
The scathing letter is one of the most high-profile critiques of the coming war — and its architects — of the Russian government. Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that dissent will not be tolerated, saying in March that the Russian people can distinguish between “true patriots and ‘scum and traitors’.”
Anatoly Chubais, Putin’s special representative for sustainable development resigned and left Russia in March, but has not publicly commented on his reasons for leaving.
Russian officials have yet to comment on the matter. But critics of the war can be punished under laws that make it a crime to spread “false information” about the Russian military, including calling the war a war rather than a “special operation” – Russia’s preferred term. Putin.
Reached by telephone by the Associated Press on Monday, Bondarev confirmed that he had submitted his resignation in a letter addressed to Ambassador Gennady Gatilov. He told the AP he had no intention of leaving Geneva.
Bondarev was directly targeting the Russian ruling class. “Those who engineered this war want only one thing: to stay in power forever, to live in pompous and tasteless palaces, to sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, to enjoy unlimited power and total impunity,” he wrote.
“To achieve this, they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as necessary,” the letter continues. “Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.”
A online directory for the UN in Geneva lists Bondarev as adviser to the mission of the Russian Federation. The LinkedIn profile says he is an arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation specialist and suggests he has held his current position since 2019.
The last section of his letter cites the ministry where he worked, including Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, whom he cites as an example of the deterioration of Russian diplomacy.
Lavrov, he writes, “has changed from a professional and educated intellectual, whom many of my colleagues held in such high esteem, to a person who constantly spreads contradictory statements and threatens the world (i.e. the Russia too) with nuclear weapons!”
Ministry today “is not about diplomacy”, but “about war, lies and hate”.
Bondarev’s very public resignation led to calls for other Russian officials to follow suit.
“Boris Bondarev is a hero,” said Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, a Geneva-based nongovernmental organization, which shared a copy of the Russian diplomat’s letter on Twitter. “We now call on all other Russian diplomats in the United Nations – and around the world – to follow his moral example and step down.”
JUST IN: 🇷🇺 The Russian adviser to the United Nations in Geneva has resigned.
Boris Bondarev: “Never have I been so ashamed of my country.”
UN Watch is now calling on all other Russian diplomats in the United Nations – and around the world – to follow its moral example and step down.
— Hillel Neuer (@HillelNeuer) May 23, 2022
“This is an incredible letter below from a senior Russian diplomat denouncing Putin in no uncertain terms,” tweeted Bill Browder, the founder of Hermitage Capital and a prominent critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“This is the language that all Russian officials and oligarchs should use if they have any chance of being treated kindly by the West.”
Bondarev’s letter ended with a farewell to the ministry – and a nod to its rather precarious state.
“The ministry has become my home and my family. But I simply cannot share this bloody, senseless and utterly unnecessary ignominy any longer,” he wrote, adding, “Job offers are welcome….”
Annabelle Timsit in London and Robyn Dixon in Riga contributed to this report.