Gorbachev warns of worsening relations

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PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (AP) – Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev warned Saturday that tensions between the United States and Russia are eroding diplomatic gains made since the end of the Cold War.

“There was a kind of euphoria about the prospects of working with America,” Gorbachev said through a translator, according to The Providence Journal. “These assets are being squandered. They are being withered away.”

The former Communist Party chief made the remarks at a news conference before delivering a speech at the Carnegie Abbey Club.

Relations between the United States and Russia have soured because of differences over the war in Iraq and American concerns that the Kremlin is becoming less democratic under President Vladimir Putin, a longtime KGB officer.

Russian officials have concerns about NATO’s eastward expansion, and have criticized the Bush administration’s plan to deploy a national missile defense system, saying it could trigger a weapons race.

If relations are to improve, Gorbachev said the United States must view Russia as a “serious partner” rather than a failed superpower.

“Russia will never agree to be a dependent,” he said. “Through history, no one was able to bring Russia to its knees.”

Gorbachev, 75, did not address American policy in Iraq, but he did say that former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein “was a creature of the West.”

Gorbachev became the general secretary of the Soviet Communist Party in 1985 and was ousted briefly during a failed coup in 1991. He won a Nobel Peace Prize in 1990 for helping peacefully end the Cold War.

However, Gorbachev is reviled by many Russians who hold him responsible for the breakup of the Soviet Union and the economic chaos that followed. He ran for president of Russia in 1996 and won just 1 percent of the vote.

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