Mikhail Gorbachev warns global powers have put the world 'on the brink of a new Cold War'

Former Russian leader also voiced his support for current president Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions over Ukrainian conflict

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The Independent Online

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev has warned that tensions between the major powers have put the world “on the brink of a new Cold War”.

The 83-year-old former leader, who was instrumental in ending the Cold War a quarter of a century ago, also accused the West - particularly the United States - of giving in to “triumphalism” after the collapse of the communist bloc.

“The world is on the brink of a new Cold War. Some are even saying that it's already begun," Mr Gorbachev said on Saturday at an event within sight of the Brandenburg Gate, Berlin. The event marked the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

His remarks come amid a time of increasingly tense relations between the United States and Russia.

The on-going conflict in Ukraine, which since erupting in protests in January has seen the country embroiled in a bloody civil war with thousands of civilians killed, has done little to ease the relationship between president Vladimir Putin and American leader Barack Obama.

Mr Gorbachev suggested the West should lift sanctions imposed against senior Russian officials over the country’s support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, while calling for new trust to be built through dialogue between Washington and Moscow.

Prior to his arrival in Germany, the former leader made an explicit declaration of his support for the current Russian leader: “I am absolutely convinced that Putin protects Russia’s interests better than anyone else.”

He warned that the Ukrainian situation offered the US an “excuse” to victimise Russia, in an interview with the Interfax news agency, and added that failure to secure lasting security in Europe would make the continent irrelevant on the world stage.

 

“As long as Russians and Germans understand each other, as long as our relationship is good, then everyone benefits,” Mr Gorbachev said.

German and Russian relations have also been strained by events in Ukraine, with Chancellor Angela Merkel voicing “grave concerns” over reports of a new Russian military incursion in the region yesterday.

The pro-Russian separatists have long denied they receive any form of aid from Putin’s government.

Earlier this week the Ukrainian government alleged the rebels had received substantial consignments of weaponry and manpower from Russia. Moscow has consistently denied these claims.

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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