World reacts to death of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped bring down the Iron Curtain

Leaders from round the world continued paying tribute Wednesday to Mikhail Gorbachev, the final leader of the Soviet Union, after his death at the age of 91 was confirmed the earlier day. President Joe Biden referred to as Gorbachev “a man of remarkable vision,” praising the reforms the Soviet leader enacted in the remaining years of the USSR.

“These were the acts of a rare leader — one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it,” Mr. Biden mentioned in his assertion. “The result was a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people.”

U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres referred to as Gorbachev “a one-of-a kind statesman who changed the course of history.”

“The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist, and tireless advocate for peace,” Guterres wrote on Twitter.

The president of the European Union Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted: “Mikhail Gorbachev was a trusted and respected leader. He played a crucial role to end the Cold War and bring down the Iron Curtain. It opened the way for a free Europe. This legacy is one we will not forget.”

U.Ok. Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he “always admired the courage & integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion,” and France’s Emannuel Macron mentioned in a tweet, posted in each French and Russian, that Gorbachev had been “a man of peace whose choices opened the way to freedom for Russians.”

After rising to energy in 1985, Gorbachev launched insurance policies that introduced reform and new openness to the Communist regime, finally main to the fall of the Berlin Wall and the breakup of the Soviet state in 1991. 

That legacy has made Gorbachev a less-loved former leader amongst many in his personal nation, nonetheless. Many Russians — together with present President Vladimir Putin — have lamented the finish not solely the Soviet Union’s existence, however its position as a worldwide superpower.

Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) talks to former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev on December 21, 2004, earlier than a press convention with German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and Putin at Gottorf fort in Schleswig, Germany.


Putin issued a message to Gorbachev’s household on Wednesday, nonetheless, providing his “deepest condolences” on the passing of his predecessor. 

“Mikhail Gorbachev was a politician and statesman who had a huge impact on the course of world history. He led our country during a period of complex, dramatic changes, large-scale foreign policy, economic and social challenges. He deeply understood that reforms were necessary, he strove to offer his own solutions to urgent problems,” mentioned Putin in the message shared on the Telegram social media app. “I will especially note the great humanitarian, charitable, and educational activities that Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev has been conducting in recent years.”  

While in office, Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 1987.

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev
President Ronald Reagan and General Secretary of the Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev in Washington, D.C., on Dec. 8, 1987, as they met for the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Ron Sandler/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

In a statement Tuesday, Fred Ryan, the chairman of the board at the Reagan Foundation and Institute, wrote about how the two leaders went from adversaries to mates.

“It was General Secretary Gorbachev with whom President Reagan would finally have that long-sought opportunity to form a relationship which led to a lessening of tensions between Washington and Moscow, and eventually to meaningful arms reduction,” Ryan wrote.

He added that former first girl Nancy Reagan was touched when Gorbachev attended her late husband’s funeral in Washington, D.C. in 2004.

The George and Barbara Bush Foundation wrote on Twitter that the leaders “worked closely to ensure the end of the Soviet Union would be peaceful, leading to freedom for millions throughout Eastern Europe.”

“President Bush often said that President Gorbachev ‘stuck his neck out at a critical time in history to guarantee world peace.’ Our thoughts & prayers are with the Gorbachev family,” the basis mentioned.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who additionally served as nationwide safety adviser in the George W. Bush administration and was an knowledgeable on Soviet affairs, remembered Gorbachev as “a man who tried to deliver a better life for his people.” 

“Without him and his courage,” she tweeted, “it would not have been possible to end the Cold War peacefully.”

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