Gorbachev: It’s up to Europe to prevent new Cold War between US and Russia
"We must to go back to the starting line, from which we began building a new world both in Europe and elsewhere,” Gorbachev said in an interview with the TASS news agency.
The former Soviet leader recalled his meeting with US President George Bush Sr. in Malta on December 23, 1989.
During the talks, which took place several weeks after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the two leaders overcame their divisions and acknowledged the end of the Cold War.
“There are signs of Cold War” in the recent cooling down of relations between Moscow and Washington over Russia’s accession of the Crimea and the turmoil in Ukraine, Gorbachev said.
"We can and we must stop this whole process, like we did in the 1980s. We opted for de-escalation, for the unification [of Germany]. And back then it was a lot tougher than now. So why can’t we do it again?” he said.
According to Gorbachev, the “new world order” after the Cold War allowed major powers to quickly solve a lot of longtime conflicts around the globe.
The 83-year-old political veteran believes that it’s the White House which is to blame for the current tensions with the Kremlin.
The Americans decided that they’ve won the Cold War and they are still intoxicated by this “triumph,” he said.
"I don’t want to praise the current Russian authorities too much. It also makes a lot of mistakes, but today the danger comes from the US stance,” Gorbachev said.
Russia went through extremely difficult times after the collapse of the USSR and the Americans took advantage of the situation, but now the situation has changed, Gorbachev said.
"It’s good that the president [Vladimir Putin] now cares about security, defense capability, development of new weapons and modernization of the military. We are now well armed. And if necessary we can strike back. But this isn’t the case right now. There are signs of a new Cold War and this process must be stopped,” Gorbachev said.
What is happening now is “unacceptable,” Gorbachev said, adding that “fences are being built around us, pushing [the international community] towards the anti-Russia path.”
The rise of anti-Russian moods in various countries – including Germany, which had good relations with Moscow in recent decades – always happens “in the presence and due to instigation from the American side,” Gorbachev said.
“But I think there’s still time. People will turn up, who’ll have the strength to stop this and start building a new world order that would meet the challenges faced by the international community," he said.
According to Gorbachev, international NGOs should play a significant role in preventing a new Cold War.
“We must stop those war-hungry militarists,” Gorbachev said.
He explained that he himself was ready to contribute to the resolution of tensions between Russia and the US, with a group of “important influential people from US” being interested in his involvement.
“I have some ideas,” he said, expressing the opinion that the process of de-escalation should begin in Europe.
"Europe can have a very positive impact on the situation. After all, it must become the locomotive in the creation of the new world. But now Europe is being pushed in an opposite direction,” Gorbachev said.
Gorbachev has come back into the spotlight in recent months, making several high-profile comments on international events and the crisis in Ukraine.
He called Russia’s incorporation of Ukraine’s Republic of Crimea a correction of a Soviet-era mistake, condemned Kiev’s military operation in southeastern Ukraine and called US President Barack Obama “a lame duck” for rounding off his second White House term in a “mediocre” way.