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Russia faces shock, says former diplomat who resigned over war

President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has set Russia on a shock path that could unseat the Kremlin chief, trigger a civil war or even divide the country, a Russian diplomat who has said resigned because of the war.

Boris Bondarev, adviser to Russia’s permanent mission to the United Nations in Geneva, resigned in May because he felt the war had shown how repressive and twisted his country had become.

In a 6,500-word critique of Putin’s Russia, Bondarev said the state was infested with sycophants who echoed the Kremlin line, allowing Putin to make crucial decisions in an echo chamber of his own propaganda.

The future could be fraught with chaos, he said.

“If Putin is ousted from office, Russia’s future will be deeply uncertain,” Bondarev, who worked at the Foreign Ministry from 2002 to 2022, said in an essay in Foreign Affairs.

“It is quite possible that his successor will try to continue the war, especially considering that Putin’s top advisers come from the security services. But no one in Russia is up to his game, so the country would probably enter a period of political turmoil. It could even descend into chaos.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Bondarev’s article. The Kremlin has dismissed such views as deeply flawed and says Putin’s popularity has been repeatedly demonstrated at the polls.

Putin said on Friday that he had no regrets about the “special military operation”, which he portrays as an existential battle with an aggressive and arrogant West that he believes wants to destroy and divide Russia.

But after nearly eight months of a war that has sparked the biggest confrontation with the West since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, even Russia’s most basic goals are far from being achieved.

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