Russian UN diplomat resigns in protest

A member of Russia's UN mission in Geneva has quit his post. "I've never been so ashamed of my country," Boris Bondarev wrote in a farewell letter sent to his colleagues at the Russian Foreign Ministry. Europe's press commends the diplomat's courage but dampens hopes that many others will follow suit.

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Die Presse (AT) /

A rare act of civil courage

The daily Die Presse pays tribute to Bondarev:

“At last someone has dared to call a spade a spade and name the war for what it is: 'a bloody, senseless and absolutely useless disgrace'. This is a rare act of civil courage among the Russian elite. Only on rare occasions has displeasure stirred in the establishment so far - in the media, business or diplomatic spheres. Not that this will trigger a broad wave of protest in Moscow or St. Petersburg. ... From an external perspective of Russia, this act of protest will probably have greater signal effect initially: it's not all yes-men and hangers-on in Russian society - and perhaps not all opponents of the war and the regime have left the country.”

Tages-Anzeiger (CH) /

Officials have a lot to lose

The significance of this case should not be underestimated, writes the Tages-Anzeiger:

“Boris Bondarev is not some artist, singer or actor taking a stand on the invasion of his neighboring country. He was in the service of the foreign ministry for 20 years, which means he co-represented Moscow's foreign policy for all those years. ... It is not surprising that Russian diplomats are critical of the war. ... No one knows what the mood within the apparatus is, what the ratio is between hardliners and moderates. Or what this could mean for the continuation of the war in Ukraine. ... Many officials have a lot to lose, which is also part of the Putin system that has expanded over two decades.”

Tygodnik Powszechny (PL) /

An isolated case so far

Tygodnik Powszechny sees the majority of Russian diplomats continuing to toe the Kremlin line:

“ After three months of war, views have noticeably hardened among those who had not yet taken a stance. Some, like actor Konstantin Lavronenko, known from Andrei Zvyagintsev's films, declare their support for Putin's war. Others, like Zvyagintsev himself, distance themselves from the aggressive policies of those in power. The global community has registered the anti-war declaration of Russian diplomat Boris Bondarev. ... This is the first instance of a Russian diplomat protesting against the war. The first and so far the only one we know of. The rest are obediently following the Kremlin's policy.”