Putin will be ‘humiliated’ if he has to meet Zelenskyy, says defector diplomat

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A former Russian diplomat who became the most high-profile defector when he quit his job in Geneva after the invasion of Ukraine, says Vladimir Putin would be “humiliated” if he had to meet with Volodymyr Zelenskyy. 

Boris Bondarev was a senior diplomat at the Russian mission in Geneva, Switzerland, but sent an email to his fellow diplomats in May saying that he was resigning because he had never been “so ashamed” of his country after the start of the war. 

Now he tells Euronews that it was “crystal clear” to him that Russia “had stepped beyond the boundaries of reason and plunged into an abyss,” and that prompted his decision to quit.

More than 150 days after the start of the war, Bondarev now says that Vladimir Putin made a “strategic blunder” with the invasion and will need to send “more and more cannon fodder” to Ukraine. 

“It is true that every war ends with negotiations. But today I don’t see that negotiations are what both sides want.” 

“He (Putin) wants to crush Ukraine because this is a country which in his opinion has no right to exist. And yet Ukrainians not only exist, but they are defending and striking back” he adds.

So could there be a possible face-to-face meeting between the Russian president and his Ukrainian counterpart as part of a negotiated settlement to end the war? Boris Bondarenko says he thinks that’s unlikely to happen. 

“Putin will never meet Zelenskyy if he is not forced to. He will be humiliated by that.” 

“You may remember that Putin publicly called Zelenskyy “a junkie” and called upon Ukrainian generals and officers to get rid of him and his junkies in Kyiv. So imagine what he would feel if he has to shake hands with the Ukrainian president.”

The ex-diplomat says that although Russian troops are still advancing in the eastern Ukrainian Donbas region, the offensive is “seemingly losing breath” and that Russia can’t afford to keep the war going for a long time as the country doesn’t have the resources for that.