Russia-Ukraine News: World Leaders Accuse Russia of Inciting Food Crisis

Boris Bondarev says President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia may have spent the final 20 years “developing the country” however as a substitute turned it “into some kind of total horror, a threat to the world.”

Mr. Bondarev would know: He spent his career selling Mr. Putin’s international coverage.

A midlevel diplomat at Russia’s United Nations mission in Geneva, Mr. Bondarev on Monday grew to become probably the most distinguished Russian official to resign and publicly criticize the conflict in Ukraine because the invasion on Feb. 24.

“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 as on Feb. 24 of this year,” Mr. Bondarev mentioned in an e mail to colleagues.

While his blistering message was unlikely to succeed in 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 to create.

“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,” Mr. Bondarev mentioned in his e mail. “To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes.”

The resignation got here on the identical day that President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine advised the world’s political and business leaders that they wanted to go a lot additional to punish Moscow for invading his nation. Speaking by video hyperlink to the World Economic Forum, Mr. Zelensky known as for sanctions to be pushed to the utmost, for Russia be minimize off from worldwide networks and for international companies to halt operations in Russia.

Mr. Bondarev’s message was the most recent occasion of unrest within the Russian elite to emerge within the public eye.

Mr. Putin’s local weather envoy, Anatoly Chubais, stepped down and left the nation in March, reportedly as a result of of his opposition to the conflict, however he has not commented publicly. Several Russian state tv journalists have give up, together with an worker who stormed off the set of a stay information broadcast with an antiwar poster. And some business leaders have spoken out, together with a banking tycoon who mentioned the Kremlin had pressured him into a fireplace sale of his belongings as a result of of his opposition to the conflict.

In a telephone interview from Geneva, Mr. Bondarev mentioned that whereas he believed he was within the minority amongst Russian diplomats for opposing the conflict, he was not alone. He mentioned that he knew a number of diplomats who had resigned quietly after the conflict started, although it was not possible to confirm that declare.

“There are people — not so few — who think as I do,” he mentioned. “But most, I think, are still in the thrall of this propaganda that they receive and that they, in part, create.”

The Kremlin has gone to extraordinary lengths to silence dissent on the conflict. On state tv, the conflict’s opponents are repeatedly branded as traitors. A regulation signed by Mr. Putin in March punishes “false information” in regards to the conflict — doubtlessly outlined as something that contradicts the federal government line — with as a lot as 15 years in jail. Partly in consequence, nearly no authorities official had spoken out publicly towards the invasion till Mr. Bondarev’s resignation.

Still, Mr. Bondarev mentioned that accountability for the conflict goes past Mr. Putin and consists of the Russian Foreign Ministry. Russian diplomats, he mentioned, had been complicit in making it appear to be Mr. Putin may obtain a straightforward victory in Ukraine.

“They got Ukraine wrong, they got the West wrong, they basically got everything wrong,” Mr. Bondarev mentioned, referring to the Kremlin’s view of the world earlier than the invasion. “We diplomats of the Foreign Ministry are also at fault for this, for not passing along the information that we should have — for smoothing it out and presenting it as though everything was great.”

Mr. Bondarev, half of the group engaged on arms management and disarmament at Russia’s Geneva mission, mentioned he had seen deceptive info cabled to Moscow in latest weeks.

“Instead of presenting your own analysis as objectively as possible along with your suggestions on how to proceed, we often presented information that was certain to be liked,” he mentioned. “That was the main criterion.”

In his e mail to colleagues, he mentioned that he “should have stepped down at least three months ago,” when Russia invaded, however that he had delayed as a result of he had unfinished household business and “had to gather my resolve.”

“I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy,” Mr. Bondarev wrote.

In the interview, he mentioned that he had grown disenchanted with Russian authorities service even earlier than the invasion, “when we were not yet such pariahs,” however that he had stayed on as a result of of the first rate pay and attention-grabbing work journeys and other people he met.

Russia’s state media didn’t instantly report on Mr. Bondarev’s resignation, and the Foreign Ministry had not commented as the tip of the workday approached in Moscow. Mr. Bondarev, who’s listed as a counselor on the Russian mission on the United Nations website, confirmed his id in a video name with The New York Times and by sending a picture of his diplomatic passport.

Mr. Bondarev mentioned that what had most disturbed him at his workplace because the invasion was the nonchalance with which some of his fellow Russian diplomats chatted about potential nuclear strikes towards the West — although they labored in arms management. On Russian state tv, commentators have raised the specter of nuclear battle with rising frequency whereas casting the combating in Ukraine as a proxy conflict of the West towards Russia.

“They think that if you hit some village in America with a nuclear strike, then the Americans will immediately get scared and run to beg for mercy on their knees,” Mr. Bondarev mentioned, describing his colleagues’ feedback. “That’s how many of our people think, and I fear that this is the line that they are passing along to Moscow.”

He mentioned that when he had urged to his colleagues that maybe they didn’t need their youngsters to stay in “radioactive ruins,” they might chuckle and say that “this is about values” — echoing Mr. Putin, who in making an attempt to justify his invasion has typically described Russia as combating for “traditional values” towards a decadent West.

But Mr. Bondarev mentioned that Mr. Putin’s conflict was actually in regards to the president’s effort to remain in energy amid a stagnating financial system and gathering public discontent, and an absence of an ideology to mobilize the plenty.

“How can you stay and preserve power, without losing it in the face of such objective difficulties?” he requested. “You have to invent a war.”

Mr. Bondarev mentioned he didn’t but have any agency career plans. On LinkedIn, after posting his resignation assertion, he wrote: “Job offers are welcome.”

Nick Cumming-Bruce contributed reporting from Geneva.

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