Russian diplomat resigns over war in Ukraine

GENEVA – A diplomat from the Russian mission to the United Nations in Geneva left his post on Monday, expressing shame at the Russian invasion of Ukraine and describing it as a crime against both countries.

Boris Bondarev, a Russian mission adviser since 2019 who described himself as a veteran of the Russian Foreign Ministry for 20 years, has announced his resignation by email sent Monday to diplomats in Geneva. His resignation is the highest-profile gesture of protest so far made by a Russian diplomat over the war in Ukraine.

“For 20 years of my diplomatic career I have witnessed several turning points in our foreign policy, but I have never been so ashamed of my country as on February 24 of this year,” said Bondarev, referring to the date on which the president Vladimir V. Putin sent Russian forces to Ukraine.

“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 Russian people,” he added.

Diplomats in Geneva confirmed they had received the email. Mr. Bondarev, reached by phone after replying to a message on his LinkedIn account, confirmed he had sent it to several dozen colleagues on other missions and said he resigned on Monday morning.

Mr. Bondarev, 41, is listed as a councilor on the Russian mission on the United Nations website; sent a copy of his diplomatic passport to the New York Times to confirm his identity.

The Russian mission to the United Nations in Geneva said its spokesperson is not immediately available, but will soon release a statement.

Mr. Bondarev, who dealt with disarmament matters and was described by Western officials in Geneva as a middle-ranking diplomat, harshly denounced the Russian leadership.

“Those who conceived this war want only one thing: to remain 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 complete impunity”, he said in a statement attached to his email to diplomats. “To achieve this they are willing to sacrifice all necessary lives.”

He added: “It has already been three months since my government launched a bloody assault on Ukraine and it was very difficult to keep my mind more or less sane when everyone was losing theirs.”

He should have resigned three months ago, he said, when Russia invaded, but he had delayed because he had pending family business and “had to muster my resolve.”

Mr. Bondarev went on to deliver stinging criticism of the Russian foreign service and its chief of diplomacy, Sergey V. Lavrov. The ministry had been his home, he said, but over the past 20 years the lies and lack of professionalism had reached levels he described as “simply catastrophic”.

“Today the Foreign Ministry does not speak of diplomacy. It’s all about warmongering, lies and hatred, “she wrote, and she was contributing to Russia’s isolation.

Mr. Lavrov was “a good example of the degradation of this system,” said Mr. Bondarev. In 18 years, the Russian Foreign Minister had gone from being a professional and cultured intellectual and esteemed by colleagues to threatening the world with nuclear weapons.

“I simply can no longer share this bloody, senseless and utterly useless ignominy,” wrote Bondarev.