For Putin, Ukraine is trying to undo the legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev



On the day Russia invaded Ukraine, February 24, the legacy of Mikhail Gorbachev hung over President Vladimir Putin’s predawn speech. “The paralysis of power and will is the first step towards complete degradation and oblivion,” Putin said, referring to the The collapse of the Soviet Union. “We lost confidence for a moment, but that was enough to upset the balance of power in the world.”
For Putin, the end of the Soviet Union was the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century”, a “real tragedy” for millions of Russians. The disaster was caused, according to Putin, by the weak nerves of a leader too willing to pander to the demands of a treacherous and deceitful West – a mistake.
But Putin’s battle to overturn Gorbachev’s legacy extends beyond territorial control to the personal and political freedoms established by the last Soviet president. Venediktov said in an interview in July.
Gorbachev was still in power when Venediktov’s liberal radio station, Echo of Moscow, first went on the air in 1990. After Putin ordered troops into Ukraine, the Kremlin forced it to shut down. Novaya Gazeta – the newspaper Gorbachev used his Nobel Peace Prize money to help found in the 1990s – was forced to suspend publication in March.
Gorbachev, in failing health, has said nothing publicly this year about the war. His Gorbachev Foundation issued a statement calling for a “swift cessation of hostilities” and the “immediate initiation of peace talks”. But Gorbachev backed Putin’s vision of Ukraine as a “brotherly nation” that should be in Russia’s orbit. He backed Putin’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula in 2014. And he lambasted the West for ‘attempting to lure Ukraine into NATO’, warning such attempts would only sow discord .” But he seemed convinced that the worst could be avoided.


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