The Russian leader stabilized relations with the West….
He has little to nothing in common with current Russian President Putin , who is failing to get the old Soviet Union back by force….
Putin will never measure up to the West and Eastern European’s as Gorbachev’ was….
“We are now living in a new world,” he said as he stepped down in December 1991. “An end has been put to the Cold War and to the arms race, as well as to the mad militarization of the country, which has crippled our economy, public attitudes, and morals. The threat of nuclear war has been removed.”
One can debate, as historians and politicians have in the ensuing decades, how much of the change was Gorbachev’s doing and how much was forced on him by the tide of history, as well as leaders like Lech Walesa, Pope John Paul II, and President Ronald Reagan. Certainly, the events of the 1980s — including the humiliating defeat in Afghanistan — had already made it harder for any Soviet leader to continue the nation on its existing path.
But there’s no doubt Gorbachev demonstrated a willingness to accept a much-different Soviet society and a much-different world order, even at the cost of his nation’s power and prestige. Unlike his predecessors, Gorbachev did not cling to a failed dream.
“The selection of Gorbachev was arguably the most revolutionary act in the history of the party since 1917,” wrote historian Orlando Figes in “Revolutionary Russia 1891-1991.” “Had the Politburo known where he would lead the party in the next few years, it would never have allowed him to become its General Secretary.”…
Despite their initial mistrust, Reagan and Gorbachev came to be partners in arms control, reversing course on a decades-long arms race. Those international efforts helped Gorbachev’s popularity overseas, at the expense of his reputation back home.
“I was politically active at a time when my country and the whole world were ripe for colossal changes,” he wrote in his book “What Is At Stake Now” in 2020. “We took on the challenges. We made mistakes and misjudged some things. Yet, we initiated changes of historic dimensions, and they were peaceful.”…
Internationally, Gorbachev and Reagan were able to establish a productive rapport, hammering out the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a 1987 agreement that eliminated medium-range nuclear weapons. The superpower treaty led to the scrapping of thousands of missiles and warheads, a first.
“With patience, determination and commitment, we’ve made this impossible vision a reality,” Reagan said at the signing, which featured the two leaders joking over a Russian proverb. Western doubters became believers.
“This changed Soviet line was no ruse to disarm us,” national security adviser Colin Powell recalled later of the negotiations. “This man meant what he said.”
On Feb. 15, 1989, the last Soviet troops left Afghanistan, ending a brutal and expensive 10-year occupation….
Speaking to the United Nations in December 1988, Gorbachev disclosed he was cutting the size of the Soviet military and also intended to pull soldiers and tanks out of Eastern Europe. He also spoke of “a truly revolutionary upsurge” within his country. “Under the badge of democratization, restructuring has now encompassed politics, the economy, spiritual life, and ideology,” Gorbachev told the General Assembly. And he praised Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz.
Writing years later in his book, “Learning from Experience,” Shultz said: “For my money, the real news was the clear tone in which he announced, without really saying so, that the Cold War was over.”….