Mikhail Gorbachev, upon his recent return from Berlin.



Gorbachev: West 'Resigned' to Crimea's Return to Russia (Komsomolskaya Pravda, Russia)


"I remember the Paris Summit in 1990. Europe offered an example of how to build a new world order, a new relationship. The Americans - and Bush senior, talked about it. And I spoke about it. My good friend Pope John Paul II said at the time that we needed a more equitable world order that was more humane and safer. … And one wonders how people could object to their own decisions. It all began with the fact that the United States suddenly started talking about the creation of a 'new empire.' An over empire, a super empire. Alas, God and fate had put the task before them. Yes, they thought that their moment had come."


-- Former Soviet Union President Mikhail Gorbachev


Interview conducted By Vladimir Vorsobin


Translated By Rosamund Musgrave


December 1, 2014


Russia - Komsomolskaya Pravda - Original Article (Russian)

KPRU: Before your recent trip to Germany where you celebrated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, you said that when you were in Europe you would defend Russia’s position on Ukraine.


Gorbachev: Could you please speak louder and more slowly. Remember you’re talking to an old man!


KPRU: [Speaking louder] You went to Germany to defend Russia against Western sanctions?


Gorbachev: Well I didn’t actually say that. I went for a holiday. The destruction of the Berlin Wall went was a major event in history and will remain so forever. It required monumental change for the wall to come down.


I recall on the first day of meetings with leaders of the Warsaw Pact countries I told them that when it came to the domestic policies of their countries, they should develop, implement and be responsible for them, and that we would not interfere in their internal affairs, but that when circumstances related to the areas of the economy, energy and so on, we would have a say. I saw at that moment that they all reacted differently.


KPRU: A bit gloomy, one imagines.


Gorbachev: Yes, but they didn’t express it. I said to them: the Brezhnev Doctrine is history now. Without that, it would have been impossible for the wall to come down.


[Editor's Note: The Brezhnev Doctrine can be summed up in this sentence: "When forces that are hostile to socialism try to turn the development of some socialist country towards capitalism, it becomes not only a problem of the country concerned, but a common problem and concern of all socialist countries."]


KPRU: Some historians believe that the collapse of the Union began when the Brezhnev Doctrine of 'total control over the Eastern bloc' was abandoned.


Gorbachev: I cannot tolerate hearing that! It drives me crazy! Whether this is said out of irresponsibility or because of the press or a little of both, I do not know. We are to blame - we buried the Union. We are to blame. I fought tooth and nail to preserve it. I wanted the republics to enjoy sovereignty and for their questions to be answered locally. The Union had to be transformed and democratized. We were getting to that by preparing new treaties of alliance. ..


KPRU: Did you expect that the wall would collapse so quickly?


Gorbachev: In June 1989 I was on an official visit to Bonn where I met with Chancellor Kohl. When we spoke to the press, a journalist who looked very much like you asked exactly the same question: When will it collapse? I said - under certain circumstances there is a wall, and under other circumstances, it would disappear. I thought it would begin to fall at the beginning of the 21st century - and Kohl thought so, too ….


KPRU: But why did it happen so quickly?


Gorbachev: Well I was young, powerful and strong - I went there, pushed it over and that was it [laughs]. It simply came to that - democratic changes were being made in the Soviet Union, relations with America were restored - and also with China after 35 years of enmity. Finally there was the "Velvet Revolution" - in Czechoslovakia and Hungary for example. And like lepers the Germans were sitting there on the other side of the fence. I think that sensation affected them. And what should we have said to them? Listen, you are to blame for Hitler starting the Second World War? But that’s not politics. That would have been folly.


All of West Germany’s demands were met


KPRU: Your critics say that Gorbachev didn’t manage many Western concessions from for the reunification of Germany.


Gorbachev: The Germans met all of our serious demands. There are still no nuclear weapons or foreign NATO troops on the territory of the former German Democratic Republic [East Germany]. The number of soldiers in the Federal Republic of Germany [West Germany] has been nearly halved, from 600,000 to just over 300,000. But most importantly, we agreed with the Germans on the signing of the "Big Treaty" [the Two Plus Fours Agreement]. This was an excellent document. We had all that we needed in it. For instance, it covered cooperation over the modernization of industry. That is why to this day, Russia works more than 600 German companies. Is there something else we should have coaxed out of them with hat in hand?


KPRU: And the non-expansion of NATO to the east?


Gorbachev: How could we have made such a demand with the Warsaw Pact still in place?! With all this contrived talk of agreements, one wonders what part you had in arriving at them …


KPRU: Mikhail Sergeevich, I don’t participate in coming up with agreements.


Gorbachev: Then why are you sitting there attacking and asking such questions?


KPRU: I have to. This doesn’t only interest me.


Gorbachev: Why? Because it smells of something, right? When all is said and done, remember this when they want to say - Gorbachev lost. We didn’t give anything away! If there were compromises, they were reciprocal. We didn’t prejudice the country. This is all documented. And the agreements are still being observed.


KPRU: Are there no decisions you would change if you could?


Gorbachev: [Thinks a while] Perhaps something about in terms of how things were impliented. But in principle everything was resolved properly.


KPRU: You wrote in an open letter recently that the West considered itself the victor in the Cold War and this is the root of many of our problems today.


Gorbachev: That is a question for the West.


KPRU: And your evaluation?


Gorbachev: Or do you also consider that I, too, work for the West?




Gorbachev: We have a whole new cohort of jingoists who want to curry favor. I look at some of them who probably used to good, even solid people, and they’ve been licked clean! They’re such toadies!


As for “feeling like the victors,” I remember the Paris Summit in 1990. Europe offered an example of how to build a new world order, a new relationship. The Americans - and Bush senior, talked about it. And I spoke about it. My good friend Pope John Paul II said at the time that we needed a more equitable world order that was more humane and safer. … And one wonders how people could object to their own decisions. It all began with the fact that the United States suddenly started talking about the creation of a “new empire.” An over empire, a super empire. Alas, God and fate had put the task before them. Yes, they thought that their moment had come.


KPRU: But was that the cause of the Ukrainian crisis?


Gorbachev: The reason is the same – the collapse of the Soviet Union. When we began to discuss the Belavezha Accords, it was necessary, of course, to return to the problem of Crimea. [The Belavezha Accords formally dissolved the Soviet Union and create the Commonwealth of Independent States].


KPRU: You mean the Ukraine crisis should have been resolved by the Belavezha Accords?


Gorbachev: Yes, that's when it should have been decided.


KPRU: Did Yeltsin try?


Gorbachev: No - although he should have. The question hung in the air.


KPRU: Wasn’t that the time to discuss it?


Gorbachev: Look - for at least a year we stayed silent about Crimea. Our [naval] fleet - and Ukraine, weren't going anywhere. We held talks and they agreed. What else could have happened in territory that for so many centuries Russians had fought for? Ukraine became a state under Lenin - and before that it was part of Russia under the czar.

Posted by Worldmeets.US


KPRU: Do you approve of how events transpired in Crimea?


Gorbachev: I can say I approve because the people, the Crimeans, were almost unanimously in favor. Even I didn’t expect that, since so much had happened …


KPRU: And what about international law?


Gorbachev: When the Soviet Union collapsed, where was international law? When it broke up, did the West trust us? All right then. Let them continue not to interfere.

The last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Gorbachev, leaves his handprints

for a memorial to the fall of the Berlin wall, during celebrations marking

the 25th anniversary of the event, Nov. 7.



KPRU: In Germany you met with [Chancellor] Merkel? Does she understand your position?


Gorbachev: I won’t tell you before I have spoken to the president [Putin].


KPRU: But everyone knows that you met Merkel.


Gorbachev: But nobody knows what happened at the meeting.


KPRU: Where do you see a compromise between the West and Moscow on the Ukrainian question?


Gorbachev: There isn’t one yet, but it is still quite possible. I think both Russia and the whole of Europe will lose if the question isn’t resolved. Then responsibility will fall on all of the current leaders.


KPRU: Will the West accept Crimea becoming Russian?


Gorbachev: I think so, yes. I think they are already resigned to it.


KPRU: And will a new wall be built along the border between Russia and Ukraine?


Gorbachev: That’s nonsense. Let them dig ditches if they want. Someone will end up being unnecessarily buried. With honors.


KPRU: You contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall. But now a new one is being erected. Disappointed?


Gorbachev: [Nods head] Who isn’t disappointed? Such efforts were made … (thinks).  Many dangerous currents emerged, groups around presidents, and governments.


KPRU: The Hawks?


Gorbachev: Worse. People who are radicals. In Ukraine they opened fire on Donetsk Airport and completely destroyed it. They’re closing the mines. What will be ruined they don’t know. Then Europe will raise money for Ukrainians to buy firewood. Incidentally, they’ve been chopping trees down near my home. I’m not sure why. A whole forest of lumber is lying there. Perhaps it's for Ukraine?


KPRU: Were they greatly surprised in the West that you were defending the Kremlin and Putin?


Gorbachev: I defend the truth - and the truth in this instance is that Crimea shouldn’t be separated from Russia. It’s a child of our country. We’re not trying to recreate the USSR. We wouldn’t be able to - and we don’t need to.


KPRU: Yet many people miss the USSR.


Gorbachev: And they are right to.



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