Justin Huggler / The Telegraph & Sebastian Whale / The Telegraph & Al Jazeera America – 2015-02-07 01:27:31
Crisis in Ukraine Could
Trigger Nuclear War, Warns Gorbachev
The former Russian leader warns that Moscow does not trust the West, and the West does not trust Moscow
Justin Huggler / The Telegraph
BERLIN (January 11, 2015) — Mikhail Gorbachev, the former Soviet leader, has warned that the world is at risk of a “nuclear war” because of the tensions between Russia and the West over Ukraine.
In an interview with the German magazine Spiegel, Mr Gorbachev said that if either side lost its nerve in the current standoff, it could lead to nuclear war, and spoke of his fears that the world “will not survive the next few years”.
“I actually see all the signs of a new Cold War,” Mr Gorbachev said. “It could all blow up at any moment if we don’t take action. The loss of confidence is catastrophic. Moscow does not believe the West, and the West does not believe Moscow.”
Asked if he thought the situation could lead to a war, Mr Gorbachev said: “Don’t even think of it. Such a war today would probably lead inevitably to nuclear war. But the statements and propaganda on both sides make me fear the worst. If anyone loses their nerve in this charged atmosphere, we will not survive the next few years.”
Such a stark warning from the former Soviet leader who brought about the end of the Cold War will raise concerns.
“I do not say such things lightly,” Mr Gorbachev said. “I am a man with a conscience. But that’s how it is. I’m really extremely worried.”
The 83-year-old has spoken out about the current stand-off between Russia and the West before. Last year he used a speech in Berlin on the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall to warn: “The world is on the brink of a new Cold War”.
Mr Gorbachev has been critical of his successor, Vladimir Putin, accusing him in a recent book of overconfidence and believing himself to be “second only to God”. But he has laid the blame for the current crisis with the West, for encroaching on what Russia sees as its sphere of influence.
“NATO’s eastward expansion has destroyed the European security order,” he told Spiegel. “A dangerous winning mentality has taken hold in America.”
Mikhail Gorbachev Says Vladimir Putin
Views Himself as ‘Second Only to God’
Sebastian Whale / The Telegraph
LONDON (November 21, 2014) — Mikhail Gorbachev has said Vladimir Putin thinks of himself as “second only to God” after complaining the Kremlin leader never seeks his advice.
The 83-year-old former Soviet leader made the comments as he launched his new book, After the Kremlin, in which he praises the former KGB spy for playing a major role in stabilising Russia and acting “in the interests of the majority”.
However, Mr Gorbachev used the book launch to say: “He has started picking up the same illness which I suffered from earlier â€“ self-confidence. Don’t get a big head. That is what ruined me.”
The former president said apart from a short meeting in June, Mr Putin’s aides had repeatedly declined his offer to meet. Mr Gorbachev recently warned of the potential for a new Cold War 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
“I need to participate, and I will. Nobody will shut my mouth, even though people wanted me to emigrate. I don’t want to leave, let those people leave,” he added.
Joe Biden, the US vice president suggested on Friday that Russia faces “rising costs and greater isolation” if it continued to violate ceasefire agreements with Ukraine, after holding talks with President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev.
Mr Biden was visiting Ukraine on the first anniversary of the start of mass protests culminating in former President Victor Yanukovych relinquishing power. More than 4,300 people have died in eastern Ukraine since April.
Alongside respecting the ceasefire, Mr Biden said Russia should allow Ukraine to restore order over its own borders and remove “illegal military formations, military equipment and militants”.
Prior to the vice president’s visit to Ukraine, Russian officials warned the US against selling arms to the government in Kiev.
Gorbachev Warns World
‘On Brink of New Cold War’ over Ukraine
Former Soviet leader accuses US of ‘triumphalism’ during comments marking 25th anniversary of Berlin Wall’s fall
Al Jazeera America
(November 8, 2014) — Former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev warned Saturday that tensions between the major powers have put the world “on the brink of a new Cold War.”
The 83-year-old accused the West, particularly the United States, of giving in to “triumphalism” after the collapse of the communist bloc a quarter century ago. The result, he said, could be seen in the ability of global powers to prevent or resolve conflicts in Yugoslavia, the Middle East and most recently Ukraine.
Speaking at an event marking the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, Gorbachev called for new trust to be built through dialogue with Moscow, and suggested the West should lift sanctions imposed against senior Russian officials over its actions in eastern Ukraine.
Gorbachev’s comments come at a time of heightened tensions between Russia and the United States, notably over events in eastern Ukraine.
Kiev and its Western allies have accused Russia of arming and fueling a separatist rebellion in breakaway regions of the Ukraine. Fighting between pro-Russian rebels and government forces has so far seen the deaths of 4,000 people.
And despite a current truce being in place, consistent violations by both sides appear to be in evidence. Kiev has also warned of a recent surge of military support by Moscow for the rebel groups.
On Saturday, Associated Press reporters saw more than 80 unmarked military vehicles on the move in rebel-controlled areas of eastern Ukraine, indicating that intensified hostilities may lie ahead.
Three separate columns were seen — one near the main separatist stronghold of Donetsk and two outside the town of Snizhne, 50 miles further east. The vehicles were mainly transportation trucks, some of them carrying small- and large-caliber artillery systems, and at least one armored personnel carrier. Several of the trucks were seen to be carrying troops.
Ukrainian officials said this week that they believe rebel forces have received substantial consignments of weaponry and manpower from Russia. Moscow denies such claims.
It was not immediately possible to establish the provenance of the vehicles seen Saturday. Separatists have always insisted they are armed with equipment captured from Ukrainian forces, but the sheer scale and quality of their armaments have strained the credibility of that claim.
Ukrainian National Security and Defense Council spokesman Volodymyr Polevoy said rebel reinforcements have also been observed moving toward front-line locations around 95 miles northeast of Donetsk, in the Luhansk region.
Polevoy said rebel authorities are boosting their ranks by forcibly mobilizing residents in a number of occupied towns.
Despite a cease-fire being reached in September, Ukrainian and rebel troops engage on a regular basis, with some of the heaviest fighting focused on Donetsk airport.
One government paratrooper was killed Friday by a sniper at the airport, military authorities said in a statement. Polevoy said two other Ukrainian troops were killed on the same day, but gave no details.
In Beijing, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met Saturday on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference for what was expected to be a discussion about the unrest in eastern Ukraine.
Asked if Russia still respects the legitimacy of the cease-fire agreement, Lavrov said it is for the “rebels and the government” of Ukraine to finalize a disengagement line — a process that he said is continuing.
Tensions between Ukraine and Russia rose further after the rebels held an election last Sunday that Ukraine and the West denounced as a violation of the truce. Russia, however, quickly lent its support to the vote.
Al Jazeera and wire services
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