MOSCOW – The last leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, expressed on Saturday his regret over the death of former US President George H. W. Bush, highlighting the late president’s contribution to nuclear disarmament and the end of the Cold War.
Gorbachev and his US counterpart, who died on Friday at the age of 94, led their respective superpowers in the run-up to the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.
“A lot of my memories are linked with this man. We had the chance to work together during the time of enormous changes,” Gorbachev, 87, told the Russian news agency Interfax on Saturday.
“This was a dramatic time which called for huge responsibility from everyone. The result was the end of the Cold War and the nuclear arms race,” the former soviet leader added, calling Bush a “true partner.”
After expressing his condolences to the family of the former president and the people of the US, Gorbachev asserted that Bush, as a politician and person, would remain in the memory of many.
Bush served as US president from 1989-1993, and as vice president under Ronald Regan between 1981-1989.
Gorbachev became president of a struggling Soviet Union in 1985, and his two major reform policies – glasnost (“openness”) and perestroika (“restructuring”) – are regarded by some historians as having accelerated the end of the Soviet system.
The Russian leader also signed several crucial Cold War-era treaties with both Regan and Bush limiting the two countries’ use of nuclear missiles and reducing their nuclear stockpiles.