The expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe has destroyed the European security order, former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev told Der Spiegel, adding that the Ukraine crisis could easily lead to nuclear war.
“The expansion of the bloc in the east [of Europe] has destroyed the European security order which was written in the Helsinki Final Act of 1975,” the 83-year-old political veteran told the German newspaper.
He added that NATO’s expansion has become “a 180-degree turn drawing us away from the Paris Charter of 1990, which was made together with all European states to finally leave the Cold War in the past.”
NATO has recently been at loggerheads with Russia over the Ukrainian crisis. The bloc has been intensifying its build-up in Eastern Europe in recent months as it accuses Moscow of sending troops to Ukraine. Moscow has denied what it calls unfounded allegations.
Speaking on the Ukraine crisis, the 1990 Nobel Peace Prize winner warned the dire situation in Ukraine, that has already left 4,317 people killed and 9,921 injured (UN estimates), may lead to a nuclear catastrophe.
"A war of this kind would unavoidably lead to a nuclear war. Anyway, declarations and propaganda from both sides make me fear the worst.”
According to Gorbachev, "we won't survive the coming years if someone loses their nerve in this overheated situation."
Sanctions against Russia harm both Moscow and those who imposed them, said the former Soviet leader, adding that excluding Russia from the G8 was wrong.
“It reminds me of blood revenge and leads nowhere. Sanctions are not the suitable instrument in case we want to save our model relations,” he said, pointing at the level of cooperation between Moscow and Berlin in the 1990s and 2000s.
The US and EU slapped Russia with several rounds of sanctions, starting in March after Crimea joined Russia. Western nations have accused Russia of annexing Crimea, but Moscow has denied the claims stressing the peninsula’s residents voted in favor of the notion in a referendum that was in line with international law and the UN Charter.
Following Western sanctions, Russia imposed a one-year ban on imports of beef, pork, poultry, fish, cheeses, fruit, vegetables and dairy products from Australia, Canada, the European Union, the US and Norway in August.
Gorbachev again called for the ‘defrosting’ of relations between Russia and the West.