Boris Bondarev says President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia may have spent the final twenty years “creating the nation” however as a substitute turned it “into some sort of complete horror, a risk to the world.”
Mr. Bondarev would know: He spent his profession selling Mr. Putin’s overseas coverage.
A midlevel diplomat at Russia’s United Nations mission in Geneva, Mr. Bondarev on Monday turned essentially the most outstanding Russian official to resign and publicly criticize the battle in Ukraine because the invasion on Feb. 24.
Whereas his blistering message was unlikely to achieve most Russians given the state’s domination of the information media, his resignation confirmed that discontent lurks in Russian officialdom regardless of the facade of nationwide unity that the Kremlin has labored onerous to create.
“Those that conceived this battle need just one factor — to stay in energy endlessly, dwell in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and value to your complete Russian Navy, having fun with limitless energy and full impunity,” Mr. Bondarev mentioned in an electronic mail to colleagues on Monday morning. “To attain that they're prepared to sacrifice as many lives because it takes.”
In a telephone interview from Geneva, Mr. Bondarev mentioned that duty for the battle goes past Mr. Putin and contains the Russian International Ministry, the place he mentioned he had labored for 20 years. Russian diplomats, he mentioned, had been complicit in making it appear to be Mr. Putin may obtain a straightforward victory in Ukraine.
“They obtained Ukraine unsuitable, they obtained the West unsuitable, they mainly obtained every little thing unsuitable,” Mr. Bondarev mentioned, referring to the Kremlin’s view of the world earlier than the invasion. “We diplomats of the International Ministry are additionally at fault for this, for not passing alongside the knowledge that we should always have — for smoothing it out and presenting it as if every little thing was nice.”
Mr. Bondarev, a part of the group engaged on arms management and disarmament at Russia’s Geneva mission, mentioned he had seen deceptive data cabled to Moscow in current weeks.
“As a substitute of presenting your personal evaluation as objectively as attainable alongside together with your recommendations on the best way to proceed, we frequently introduced data that was sure to be favored,” he mentioned. “That was the primary criterion.”
In his electronic mail to colleagues, he mentioned that he “ought to have stepped down a minimum of three months in the past,” when Russia invaded, however that he had delayed as a result of he had unfinished household enterprise and “needed to collect my resolve.”
Within the interview, he mentioned that he had grown disenchanted with Russian authorities service even earlier than the invasion, “after we weren't but such pariahs,” however that he had stayed on due to the first rate pay and fascinating work journeys and folks he met.
He mentioned that whereas he believed he was within the minority amongst Russian diplomats for opposing the battle, he was not alone. He mentioned that he knew a number of diplomats who had resigned quietly after the battle started. It was inconceivable to confirm that declare.
“There are individuals — not so few — who assume as I do,” he mentioned. “However most, I feel, are nonetheless within the thrall of this propaganda that they obtain and that they, partially, create.”
Russia’s state media didn't instantly report on Mr. Bondarev’s resignation, and the International Ministry had not commented as the top of the workday approached in Moscow. Mr. Bondarev, who's listed as a counselor on the Russian mission on the United Nations web site, confirmed his identification in a video name with The New York Occasions and by sending a picture of his diplomatic passport.
Mr. Bondarev mentioned that what had most disturbed him at his office because the invasion was the nonchalance with which a few of his fellow Russian diplomats chatted about attainable nuclear strikes towards the West — although they labored in arms management. On Russian state tv, commentators have raised the specter of nuclear battle with growing frequency whereas casting the combating in Ukraine as a proxy battle of the West towards Russia.
“They assume that if you happen to hit some village in America with a nuclear strike, then the Individuals will instantly get scared and run to beg for mercy on their knees,” Mr. Bondarev mentioned, describing his colleagues’ feedback. “That’s what number of of our individuals assume, and I worry that that is the road that they're passing alongside to Moscow.”
He mentioned that when he had recommended to his colleagues that maybe they didn't need their kids to dwell in “radioactive ruins,” they'd chuckle and say that “that is about values” — echoing Mr. Putin, who in attempting to justify his invasion has usually described Russia as combating for “conventional values” towards a decadent West.
However Mr. Bondarev mentioned that Mr. Putin’s battle was actually concerning the president’s effort to remain in energy amid a stagnating economic system and gathering public discontent, and a scarcity of an ideology to mobilize the lots.
“How will you keep and protect energy, with out shedding it within the face of such goal difficulties?” he requested. “You must invent a battle.”
Mr. Bondarev mentioned he didn't but have any agency profession plans. On LinkedIn, after posting his resignation assertion, he wrote: “Job gives are welcome.”
Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting from Geneva.
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