Mikhail Gorbachev will be remembered by world leaders and commentators as the courageous statesman who peacefully ended the Cold War and as the leader in the collapse of a global superpower.
After news that the last leader of the Soviet Union had died on Tuesday at the age of 91, memories flooded of Gorbachev’s facelift as tensions between Russia and the West have returned.
After serving as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev became the first and only President of the Soviet Union in March 1990. As Secretary General, Gorbachev negotiated a treaty with US President Ronald Reagan to reduce both countries’ nuclear stockpiles and was awarded the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize for “the leading role he played in radical changes in East-West relations”.
Gorbachev also famously pushed for perestroika, or “restructuring,” and glasnost, or “openness,” which reduced state control over the Soviet Union’s economy and political life. But his reforms were not widely accepted, and in 1991 a group of hardliners staged an unsuccessful coup to oust him.
“At turning points in history, some leaders rise and others waver,” said commentator and veteran journalist Dan Rather in a tweet. “Mikhail Gorbachev, who passed away today, rose up to make our world a safer place. He was imperfect, like all of us. But he had a vision of stability rather than chaos, and ultimately freedom rather than oppression. We need more of that.”
Michael McFaul, a Russia expert who served as the US ambassador to the country, praised Gorbachev in a tweetand said: “It is hard to imagine any other person who has changed the course of world history in a more positive direction than he has. We always enjoyed our conversations.”
“I have always admired the courage and integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a tweet.
Noting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, Johnson added that Gorbachev’s “tireless efforts to open up Soviet society remain an example for all of us”.
“Mikhail Gorbachev was a trustworthy and respected leader,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen a tweet. “He played a crucial role in ending the Cold War and bringing down the Iron Curtain. He paved the way for a free Europe. We will not forget this legacy.”
Actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger praised Gorbachev in a tweetwho said that “we can all learn from his amazing life”.
“He will forever be remembered as a hero who dismantled the communist system despite what it meant for his own power,” Schwarzenegger said in a follow-up tweet.
But conservative commentator Dinesh D’Souza had a less charitable characterization of Gorbachev. D’Souza wrote in a tweet that the Soviet leader was “a relatively nice man who was also a bungler,” calling him “Russia’s answer to Jimmy Carter,” in reference to the former US president’s 1980 re-election victory clearly lost to Reagan.
“Gorbachev tried to save communism and ended up destroying it. Reagan outwitted Gorbachev all the way,” D’Souza said. “The verdict of history is now clear: Reagan won the Cold War and Gorbachev lost.”
While Gorbachev was trying to keep the Soviet Union intact, it split into 15 independent nations, and the leader received less than 1 percent of the vote when he ran for Russia’s president in 1996.
Oleg Morozov, a Russian lawmaker from Putin’s United Russia party, told Russian state media RIA Novosti that it was a “mystical coincidence” that Gorbachev died during Russia’s military strike against Ukraine, calling him one of the “co-authors of this unjust world order.” . which our soldiers are now fighting on the battlefield.”
Putin and Gorbachev had relatively good relations. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the Russian state news agency TASS that Putin offered “his deepest condolences” over Gorbachev’s death and would send a telegram to relatives and friends.
https://www.newsweek.com/gorbachev-death-gets-world-reactions-hero-russias-jimmy-carter-1738324 Gorbachev’s death sparks global reactions, from ‘Hero’ to ‘Russia’s Jimmy Carter’