A veteran aide of President Vladimir Putin has resigned over the Ukraine war and left Russia with no intention to return, two sources said on Wednesday, the first senior official to break with the Kremlin since Putin launched his invasion a month ago.
The Kremlin confirmed that the aide, Anatoly Chubais, had resigned of his own accord. Chubais hung up the phone when contacted by Reuters. The sources did not say where he was.
Chubais was one of the principal architects of Boris Yeltsin’s economic reforms of the 1990s and was Putin’s boss in the future president’s first Kremlin job. He later ran big state businesses under Putin and held political jobs, lately serving as Kremlin special envoy to international organisations.
US President Joe Biden flies to Europe on Wednesday for an emergency NATO summit on Ukraine, where invading Russian troops are stalled, cities are under bombardment and the besieged port of Mariupol is in flames.
Four weeks into a war that has driven a quarter of Ukraine’s 44 million people from their homes, Russia has failed to capture a single major Ukrainian city or depose the government, while Western sanctions have ostracised it from the world economy.
Russian forces have taken heavy losses, been frozen in place for at least a week on most fronts and face supply problems and fierce resistance.
They have turned to siege tactics and bombardment, causing massive destruction and many civilian deaths.