Former Soviet Union leader Michael Gorbachev said he hoped the victory of President-elect Joe Biden in last week’s U.S. election would lead to better relations between Washington, D.C. and Moscow, but urged caution regarding the Kremlin’s willingness to make sacrifices.
Gorbachev, now 89 years old, speaks regularly about Russia’s international relations. He oversaw the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and has since been a strong advocate of multilateral cooperation and arms limitations.
Gorbachev was critical of the government of President Donald Trump and hinted that hawks within the government were deliberately undermining landmark arms control agreements, some of which Gorbachev helped shape.
Gorbachev told Russia’s state-backed new agency Tass on Sunday that Biden’s victory over Trump could open the door to a more moderate relationship with the United States.
The former Soviet prime minister described Biden as “a well-known personality with a lot of experience in both domestic and foreign policy. Gorbachev said he had met with Biden on several occasions while the latter served as vice president in the two administrations of President Barack Obama.
“I met with him several times; the last time was in March 2009,” Gorbachev told Tass. “He was vice president at the time. We talked for almost an hour in the White House, and then President Obama came to us,” he explained. “We had a detailed and friendly conversation. I had the impression that he understood the importance of relations with Russia.”
“I hope that Joe Biden will strive to normalize relations and restore trust between our countries. I am confident that this is in the interest of both America and Russia,” Gorbachev added.
“The interest in this election has been very great throughout the world, and that is understandable. This is the place of the United States in world politics: relations with America are important for everyone, for every country,” Gorbachev told Tass.
“I am confident that Russia also needs good relations with the USA, but of course not at any price,” Gorbachev said.
Russian state-bound media organizations were pessimistic about a future Biden administration in the run-up to the election. Many expect Biden to take a tough stance on Russia in view of Moscow’s repeated interference in American and other foreign elections since 2016 and the Kremlin’s aggressive military and covert actions abroad before and during Trump’s term in office.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has not yet congratulated Biden on his election. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Monday: “We think it is right to wait for the announcement of the official election results”.
“There they will face certain legal procedures announced by the incumbent president, which will change the situation,” Peskov added. “Therefore we think it is right to wait for the official announcement”.