Russian President Vladimir Putin's invasion of Ukraine, the fledgling democracy that broke from the U.S.S.R. in 1991, has upended international relations between Russia and the West.
The United States and other allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) announced a host of sanctions designed to freeze the assets of Putin and Russian oligarchs while weakening the country economically. On Monday, the European Union announced sanctions on Russia's central bank. In the aftermath of the invasion, the United Nations Security Council attempted to adopt a resolution condemning Russia's aggression, but Russia's ambassador struck it down with a no vote.
But a Russian representative at a recent United Nations climate conference took a markedly different tone than his counterparts defending the invasion.
Speaking at a closed door meeting, the Russian delegation head—Oleg Anisimov—stunned attendees by apologizing for Putin's war.
"Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians not able to prevent this conflict. All of those who know what is happening fail to find any justification for this attack against Ukraine.”
Though Putin has presented a host of false narratives to justify the invasion, Anisimov is one of many Russians speaking out against the escalation of tensions with Ukraine. Thousands of Russians even took to the streets in opposition, despite the potential for retribution from the government.
Social media users praised Anisimov's words.
Congratulations to this brave scientist @IPCC https://t.co/G7Sk3rLvlX
— Bettina Laville (@Bettina_Laville) February 27, 2022
A brave man who presumably just lost his job. If he's lucky, that's all he loses... https://t.co/ZiU5b9n06E
— Nicole Hill (@nicolehill) February 27, 2022
— Care for Ecosystems - Tanja (@CfE_Tanja) February 27, 2022
“Let me present an apology on behalf of all Russians who were not able to prevent this conflict,” Anisimov said, according to a participant in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s recent session.
I fear for his safety but it was a fine thing to do.
RESPECT https://t.co/U5jd8M8dIO pic.twitter.com/VkQZ8LezVc
— Fionna O'Leary, 🕯🇪🇺 (@fascinatorfun) February 28, 2022
Some hope the Russian opposition to Putin's invasion marks the beginning of the end of his regime.
Sure looks like cracks are showing https://t.co/RFcHM7g96y
— Sean O'Neill (@SeanOhhhh) February 27, 2022
People don’t talk like this about a strongman’s war unless the strongman is no longer strong. #breaking #russia #ukraine https://t.co/LcMS6mpcF2
— Breaking Norfolk (@breakingnorfolk) February 27, 2022
They are breaking, now do something with this psycho! https://t.co/1ijpBtEqgZ
— HS (@Pusher555) February 27, 2022
I’m starting to believe it really might be the beginning of the end for #Putin https://t.co/b2T9bmgBya
— Félix de la Poterie-Sienicki 🇺🇦 (@felixdelapot) February 27, 2022
Anisimov clarified that the statement was his personal opinion and not that of the Russian delegation.