By Shasi Kumar
International (DT) 31, Aug 2022 | 19 : 36 PM
Mikhail Gorbachev, who ended the Cold War without bloodshed but failed to prevent the collapse of the Soviet Union, died on Tuesday at the age of 91, hospital officials in Moscow said.
Gorbachev, the last Soviet president, forged arms reduction deals with the United States and partnerships with Western powers to remove the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War Two and brought about the reunification of Germany.
Gorbachev’s accomplishments were numerous. They included the negotiation of arms reduction treaties with the United States during a number of summits with US President Ronald Reagan. His suggestion to Reagan in Reykjavik that the US and USSR should eliminate nuclear weapons blindsided a US foreign policy establishment that initially saw Gorbachev as little more than a younger version of the gerontocrats he had succeeded.
After initially vacillating, he admitted the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, accepting that doing so would weaken him both at home and abroad. In 1988 he unilaterally drew down Warsaw Pact forces in Europe without waiting for a reciprocal agreement with NATO nations.
Earlier in his tenure he had developed a personal rapport with Margaret Thatcher, who famously told the BBC he was a man the West could do business with. He withdrew Soviet forces from Afghanistan in 1988-89, and admitted their presence was a violation of international law.
He refused to intervene in many of the spontaneous demonstrations seeking to overthrow entrenched communist leaders across the Warsaw Pact, pressuring them not to use force against their own citizens.