A view from damaged sites amid Russian attacks in Mariupol (Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
A top Russian diplomat has quit his role at the United Nations in protest at his country “absolutely needless” invasion of Ukraine.
Boris Bondarev said he had “never been so ashamed of my country” as he was when it attacked its neighbour on February 24.
In a lengthy letter announcing his resignation as Russia’s Counsellor to the United Nations in Geneva, he accused Vladimir Putin of unleashing war “against the entire Western world”.
His announcement is a further blow to the Russian president, who has seen his hopes of a swift military victory disappear.
Bondarev said: “For twenty 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 February 24 of this year.
“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 people of Russia.”
The veteran diplomat went on: “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.
“To achieve that they are willing to sacrifice as many lives as it takes. Thousands of Russians and Ukrainians have already died just for this.”
According to the UK’s ministry of defence, Russia has lost around 15,000 troops since the war began, the same as the Soviet Union lost during nine years in Afghanistan in the 1980s.
Bondarev accused the Russian ministry of foreign affairs of “warmongering, lies and hatred”, which he said has left the country with no allies around the world.
“I studied to be a diplomat and have been a diplomat for twenty years,” he said. “The Ministry has become my home and family. But I simply cannot any longer share in this bloody, witless and absolutely needless ignominy.”
In their latest assessment of the war, the MoD suggested the Putin regime is facing serious backlash from the general public over its failures in Ukraine.
They tweeted: “The Russian public has, in the past, proven sensitive to casualties suffered during wars of choice.
“As casualties suffered in Ukraine continue to rise they will become more apparent, and public dissatisfaction with the war and a willingness to voice it may grow.”
Elsewhere, the first war crimes trial since the Russian invasion began has just sentenced a Russian soldier to life imprisonment.
Vadim Shishimarin, a tank commander, was found guilty of killing an unarmed Ukrainian civilian who was riding a bicycle through a village.
This is significant because Moscow has repeatedly denied that it has committed any war crimes through its invasion of Ukraine, despite growing consternation from the rest of the international community.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.