Vladimir Putin would sacrifice 20 million Russian soldiers to win the war with Ukraine and ensure his political survival, an exiled Russian diplomat said.

Boris Bondarovwho left Russia’s permanent mission to the UN in Geneva because of the war, told Sky News that Mr Putin’s “luck had run out”.

Speaking to Beth Rigby, he said: “I think his 20 years in power have been very happy for him.

“He’s not smart, he’s just lucky. Now I think his luck has run out.”

Mr Bondarov, who has worked in the field of nuclear disarmament, described Mr Putin’s level of desperation – saying he was ready to see more than a tenth of the population die in the conflict.

“After losing the war, he will have to explain to his elites and his population why this is so, and he may find some problems in explaining it.

“And after that, there may be an opposition that will try to overthrow him, or he will try to purge his subordinates to find people to blame for all these problems. There will be a period of internal turmoil.

“You should not doubt it, he can sacrifice 10 or 20 million Russians just to win this war, to kill all Ukrainians, because this is a fundamental issue. For him, it is a matter of political survival.

“You must understand that if he loses the war, it will be the end for him.

Putin’s decision to increase Russia’s military by 137,000 troops next year has led to accusations that he is leading young, inexperienced conscripts to their deaths.

Others claimed they were being cheated and misled.

Boris Bondarov.  Photo: AP
Photo: AP

Two months of fear before he could leave the Russian mission

Mr. Bondarov, who is based in Geneva, said he made the decision to resign when the tanks crossed the Ukrainian border in February, but he could not leave until May.

“I had some business to take care of before I left,” he told Beth Rigby. “My cat was in Moscow at the time, so we had to bring him back to Geneva and it took three months.

“During these two months, I was very scared.

“After the start of the war, they [colleagues] everything turned out to be military and very pleased with what was happening.”

High-ranking Russian diplomat Boris Bondarov resigned due to the war in Ukraine

However, he said he “can no longer work for this government, for this country” … “committing war crimes and terrible mistakes and crimes against our future generations.”

He admitted that he “didn’t believe that President Putin was seriously going to start a war” before it happened.

But now, with intelligence officials warning that the Kremlin may be planning a nuclear strike in the Black Sea, Mr Bondarov says it is not a threat to be taken lightly.

“I believe that there may be some plans to somehow deploy nuclear weapons during this war in Ukraine,” he said.

“The West, I think, should be consistent in removing Putin, because as long as he and his regime are in power in Russia, the threat of nuclear war will not go away.”

He added that the Russian leader is using the nuclear button to “force other countries to do what he wants,” which he said is “a new level in the history of nuclear weapons” and “a very dangerous event.”

The president stated this at a meeting with members of the Security Council
Putin is holding a meeting of the Security Council of Russia

Calls for the participation of NATO

Mr. Bondarov suggested that because “Putin thinks he’s already fighting World War III,” NATO should consider entering the conflict.

The expansion of NATO in Eastern Europe was one of the main reasons for the start of the war, which Mr. Putin named.

Most intelligence officials agree that NATO’s official involvement will lead to a serious escalation.

But Mr. Bondarov said: “They are [the Ukrainians] we need offensive weapons, more long-range missiles, aviation.

“That’s why I think NATO should redouble its efforts and help.”

He added that while Mr. Putin is categorically opposed to NATO, Russian people have different views.

“Russians, especially the younger generation, do not see NATO as an existential enemy, they fully agree with it, because NATO is a defense organization,” he said.

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In full: Beth Rigby’s interview with Boris Bondarov

Hoping to get Chinese President Xi Jinping to help ease tensions with the Kremlin, he hesitated.

“The problem is that China is not very interested in the defeat of Putin, especially from the side of Ukrainians and Western countries.

“Because right now Putin is getting a lot of attention from the US, attention that they’ve redirected to China.”