Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said on Friday that Washington had become “arrogant and assertive” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to the expansion of the NATO military alliance.
In recent years, President Vladimir Putin has increasingly insisted that NATO is encroaching on Russia’s borders and Moscow last week demanded “legal guarantees” that the US-led alliance would halt its eastward expansion.
“How can one count on equal relations with the United States and the West in such a position?” Gorbachev told the state news agency RIA Novosti on the eve of the anniversary of his resignation as head of the USSR
He noted “the triumphant mood in the West, especially the United States” after the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991.
“They became arrogant and confident. They declared victory in the Cold War,” said 90-year-old Gorbachev.
He insisted that it was “together” that Moscow and Washington brought the world out of the nuclear confrontation and race.
“No, the ‘winners’ decided to build a new empire. Hence the idea of NATO expansion,” Gorbachev added.
However, he welcomed the upcoming security talks between Moscow and Washington.
“I hope there will be a result,” he said.
Moscow last week made sweeping security demands on the West, declaring that NATO must not admit new members and seeking to prevent the United States from establishing new bases in former Soviet countries.
Putin said Thursday that Washington was willing to discuss the proposals and talks could take place early next year in Geneva.
A senior US official said Washington was ready for talks “as early as January”.
Gorbachev resigned from his post as President of the Soviet Union on December 25, 1991, a few days after Belarus’s rulers, Russia and Ukraine declared that the USSR no longer existed.
A former KGB agent and staunch servant of the Soviet Union, Putin was dismayed when he collapsed, once calling the collapse “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century.”