“They must be withdrawn. That is the main lesson. You know, it’s like a match. The match is lit, a fire spreads. And these clashes, when the leading, largest countries in this conflict become ever more involved, they are dangerous for all nations,” the former head of the USSR noted, speaking about the lessons learned from the Soviet troop pullout from the region in 1989.
At the time, the United States and the Soviets were mending fences in relations and trying to come to grips with the ongoing political processes around the world. The effort resulted in Gorbachev’s meeting with George H.W. Bush on Malta that officially put an end to the Cold War.
Back then, Washington supported the mujahideen fighters trying to topple Afghan President Mohammad Najibullah’s Soviet-backed government. However, just over two years later, the USSR itself collapsed and assistance to the Kabul government ground to a halt, leading to the latter’s fall.
When asked about the landmark arms accord, the 1987 INF Treaty, Gorbachev ripped the US move to scrap the historic deal.
“All the agreements that are there are preserved and not destroyed”, he said, adding, “But these are the first steps towards the destruction of [that which] must not be destroyed in any case. Therefore, if this path goes further, then everything is possible. This must not be allowed.”
He stressed that the ultimate goal of arms control is to dispose of nukes entirely, admitting though there are persisting tensions in relations between Washington and Moscow.
Addressing the nascent multipolar rivalry between states, Gorbachev stressed that “a hot war should be avoided”.
The former Soviet president, however, seems to view some ongoing developments as positive.
“It’s good that already all over the world there is a conversation and people are talking, people are reacting, and this is the most important thing,” Gorbachev noted, further proceeding to make a direct appeal and an explicit imperative:
“Speakers and politicians, people understand that this, the New Cold War, must not be allowed. This might turn out to be a hot war that could mean the destruction of our entire civilisation. This must not be allowed,” he stressed.
Addressing the Cold War as a recurrent theme in a variety of pop culture products, and the acclaimed “Chernobyl” TV series, Gorbachev said the reasons had been studied at length and the conclusions were sent out to all other countries.
“These findings are a lesson to everyone. They say, ‘Why you were silent for several days?’ But I say it was exactly like I said before, not the other way around. We did not understand what had happened”, he stated, adding though he hasn’t seen the hit TV series.