Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has urged Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump to stage direct negotiations, warning that an incidental clash between American and Russian forces could lead to open warfare.
“I am very alarmed,” Gorbachev, who led the Soviet Union between 1985 and 1991, told Interfax news agency. “The situation hasn’t been this bad in a long time, and I am very disappointed in how world leaders are behaving themselves. We see evidence of an inability to use diplomatic mechanisms. International politics has turned into exchanges of accusations, sanctions, and even military strikes.”
Gorbachev, whose Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 was partly awarded for his ground-breaking summits with Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush that helped end the Cold War, urged the current leaders in the Kremlin and the White House to follow his example.
“Because Russia and the US are at the sharp end of the current crisis, their leaders must meet. They need to meet half-way, for a day or two of serious negotiations with involvement from foreign and defense ministers,” Gorbachev said.
In the current absence of diplomatic progress, Gorbachev is particularly worried about “preventing incidents involving Russian and American troops and armaments.”
“I am sure no one wants war, but in the current febrile atmosphere could lead to great trouble,” said Gorbachev, 87, who added that the present escalation of disagreements between the major powers is due to the fact that “ordinary people are not yet aware of the threat hanging over them.”
Recent international flashpoints involving Moscow have included the Sergei Skripal incident in the UK last month and the alleged chemical attack in Douma, Syria, last week, which may yet provoke an armed intervention from the West in an area where Russian forces are already stationed.