West should stop dragging Ukraine into NATO – Gorbachev
The former Soviet leader expressed these opinions in the afterword to his latest book of memoirs called “After the Kremlin” - soon to be released. The afterword was published before the book by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper.
Gorbachev writes that in his view the Ukrainian conflict can only be settled through dialogue, both inside the country and at an international level. He points out that leading nations were largely to blame for the current dire situation, as from the very beginning they were testing Ukraine’s integrity. EU countries, and first of all Germany and France, have already understood this and are taking steps to de-escalate the crisis, which is a good thing, the ex-president says.
Gorbachev also emphasized that good relations with Russia must become a priority in Ukraine’s foreign policy and this should also be understood and accepted by Western nations. Leaders of these nations should stop dragging Ukraine into NATO because these attempts would result in nothing but strife between Ukraine and Russia.
However, according to Gorbachev the main role in the settlement must be played jointly by Russia and the United States. These nations stand out because they are permanent members of the UN Security Council and can wield significant influence on the organization. The jointly prepared resolution could become a powerful factor with the potential to reverse the negative course of events.
Further development could be a broad dialogue between all Ukraine’s actors, with the ultimate objective of saving the country and reaching national accord. This will be very difficult after all the accusations, the enmity and the bloodshed, but there is no other way, Gorbachev wrote.
The ex-president again repeated his opinion that the roots of the current turmoil lie in the hasty breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. He added that back then the Ukrainian authorities sabotaged the process of the peaceful transformation of the USSR, despite Gorbachev’s best efforts.
“They did not listen to my suggestions and warnings. They forgot that relations between peoples always require extreme caution and attention to the consequences of every step. Some people might say that this is a thing of the past. But the past is connected with the present by many threads and it again and again reminds us of politicians’ mistakes,” the ex-Soviet leader writes in his book.
In March this year, Gorbachev wrote about the Ukrainian turmoil on his website and called for mass media to stop adding to the tension in order to prevent what he called “a tragic schism between two brotherly nations.” At the same time, Gorbachev stated that he would prefer not to get personally involved in any talks and diplomatic contact.
On Friday, the two parts of the Ukrainian conflict – the Kiev government and the self-defense forces of the eastern regions started peace talks in the Belarus capital of Minsk, with the participation of Russia and the OSCE. Before the start, all sides expressed the hope of reaching a peaceful settlement to the crisis, which involves a ceasefire and exchange of prisoners.