Gorbachev blasts Bush on missile defence issue


Washington : Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev weighed in on the tense Russia-US situation, blasting the US president for provoking another arms race with plans to station anti-missile silos and a radar system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

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"The US has once again driven itself in a corner," Gorbachev said in an interview with CNN Wednesday. "President (Vladimir) Putin has answered, and said he will have to develop systems that would ensure Russia's security."

"This means we are being drawn into another arms race," he said, speaking Russian translated into English.

Gorbachev, who as Soviet premier in the 1980s gave the initial push to end the Cold War, said the administration of US President George W. Bush had exhausted its credibility in the world through the war in Iraq and other highhanded policies.

"Now the administration sees militarisation as a rescue," Gorbachev said.

Over the weekend, Putin told Western media that Russia may point its own missiles at European targets should the US push ahead with missile shield bases in Poland.

The dispute has boiled over during this week's G8 meetings in Heiligendamm, Germany.

"This is not the sort of politics we had at the end of the Cold War," Gorbachev said.

Polish Prime Minister Jaroslaw Kaczynski, who will meet with Bush Friday in Jurata, Poland, had his own observation on Cold War rhetoric.

"This kind of language was not used by (former Russian president Boris) Yeltsin, nor by Gorbachev, nor I can say even by (former Soviet leader Leonid) Brezhnev – I can't remember this," Kaczynski told Polish radio.

"Khrushchev used this kind of language," he concluded.