The United States grew “arrogant and self-confident” after the collapse of the Soviet Union, leading to the expansion of the NATO military alliance, former leader Mikhail Gorbachev said on Friday.
In recent years President Vladimir Putin has grown increasingly insistent that NATO is encroaching close to Russia’s borders, and Moscow last week demanded “legal guarantees” that the US-led alliance halt its eastward expansion.
“How can one count on equal relations with the United States and the West in such a position,” Gorbachev told state news agency RIA Novosti on the eve of the anniversary of his resignation as the leader of the USSR.
“They grew arrogant and self-confident. They declared victory in the Cold War,” said the 90-year-old.
“No, the ‘winners’ decided to build a new empire. Hence the idea of NATO expansion,” Gorbachev added.
“I hope there will be a result,” he said.
Putin said Thursday that Washington had been willing to discuss the proposals and talks could happen at the start of next year in Geneva.
Putin, a former KGB agent and loyal servant of the Soviet Union, was dismayed when it fell apart, once calling the collapse “the greatest geopolitical disaster of the 20th century”.
Valentina Shmeleva labelled the leaders immediately preceding Putin as “traitors”, particularly Russia’s first president Boris Yeltsin.
Evgeny Dotsenko, 46, said it was a “pity” that the USSR fell apart.