Tributes and message of condolence poured in for Mikhail Gorbachev Tuesday after the death of the Soviet Union's last leader—including from Vladimir Putin, who has often referred to the fall of the Soviet Union as a "tragedy" and a "catastrophe." According to a Kremlin spokesman, the Russian president "expressed his deepest condolences" on the 91-year-old's death, per Reuters. The BBC reports that Gorbachev sometimes criticized Putin and his inner circle, and reportedly told a journalist months ago that he felt Putin's invasion of Ukraine had undone his life's work. More:
- Emmanuel Macron. "My condolences for the death of Mikhail Gorbachev, a man of peace whose choices opened a path to freedom for Russians," tweeted the French president. "His commitment to peace in Europe changed our common history."
- Antonio Guterres. "Mikhail Gorbachev was a one-of-a kind statesman who changed the course of history," the United Nations secretary general tweeted. "The world has lost a towering global leader, committed multilateralist, and tireless advocate for peace."
- Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former California governor shared a photo of himself with Gorbachev, the Guardian reports. "Mikhail Gorbachev was one of my heroes, and it was an honor and a joy to meet him," he tweeted. "I was unbelievably lucky to call him a friend. All of us can learn from his fantastic life."
- Henry Kissinger. The former secretary of state told the BBC that the people of Europe owe Gorbachev a debt of gratitude for his "great service to humanity."
- Boris Johnson. "I always admired the courage & integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful conclusion," the British prime minister tweeted. "In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all."
- James Baker. Baker, who was secretary of state in the George HW Bush administration when the Soviet Union collapsed, told Reuters: "History will remember Mikhail Gorbachev as a giant who steered his great nation towards democracy. He played the critical role in a peaceful conclusion of the Cold War by his decision against using force to hold the empire together."
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