Mikhail Gorbachev accuses the West of attempting to ‘provoke’ and undermine Vladimir Putin
MIKHAIL GORBACHEV has accused the West of deliberately attempting to provoke and undermine Vladimir Putin.
The former Soviet President, who played a critical role in the end of the Cold War, believes constant attacks on President Putin by the Western press had emboldened Russia’s leader. The 85-year-old was speaking to the BBC to mark 25 years since the collapse of the USSR, an event he describes as a “crime and a coup”. He said: “Special instructions have been given to the western press… to discredit Putin and get rid of him.
“As a result 86 per cent of Russians support Putin. “Soon it will be 120 per cent.” Mr Gorbachev, who was given the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for helping to end the Cold War, also appeared to take a swipe at Mr Putin. When asked if the president ever asks for his help Mr Putin told the BBC: “He knows everything. Everyone wants to things their way. C’est la vie!”
Speaking to the Associated Press Mr Gorbachev doubled down on his attacks on the West. He said: “They have been badgering Russia with accusations and blaming it for everything.
“And now there is a backlash to that in Russia. Russia wants to have friendly ties with America, but it’s difficult to do that when Russia sees that it’s being cheated.”
On the need to repair damaged ties between the US and Russia he added: “The world needs Russia and the United States to cooperate. Together, they could lead the world … to a new path.
“If we don’t cooperate, if we don’t pull our efforts together and talk to each other, everyone will build up arms. If there is a rifle on the wall in the first act of a play, it will go off in the end.”
There have long been tensions between Mr Gorbachev and Vladimir Putin, with the former Soviet leader saying that Russia’s current leader thinks of himself as “second only to God”.
However, Mr Gorbachev did concede Mr Putin had been a strong leader.
He said: “I think he’s a worthy president, he has proven his worth. He is a strong person.”
“I almost fully supported him first, and then I began to voice criticism.
“I can’t renounce my views, and he wants something else.”
Mr Putin is heading to Japan this week to meet Prime Minister Shinzo Abe as the pair attempt to reach an agreement on a 70-year territorial dispute.
Mr Abe will welcome Mr Putin to his ancestral city of Nagato in the hope of brokering a deal over the Kuril Islands, which were seized by Soviet troops towards the end of the Second World War.