mourns Gorbachev’s unfulfilled vision

Former US diplomat said the last Soviet leader started “historic transformations” of benefit to the world

Mikhail Gorbachev did a great service to humanity but was ultimately undone by the passions he unleashed, former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger said on Tuesday, commenting on the death of the last Soviet leader.

“The people of eastern Europe and the German people, and in the end the Russian people, owe him a great debt of gratitude for the inspiration, for the courage in coming forward with these ideas of freedom,” Kissinger, 99, told BBC’s Newsnight.

Gorbachev “performed great services but he was not able to implement all of his visions,” Kissinger said, adding that he “was in part destroyed by the developing ideas for which his society was not yet fully ready.”

The Soviet Union “did not prove capable of implementing the full vision that he had put before them,” but Gorbachev “will still be remembered in history as a man who started historic transformations that were to the benefit of mankind and to the Russian people,” said Kissinger.

“Even though he did not prove strong enough to resist the passions that he unleashed, he performed a great service to humanity by what he started, [by] what was implemented in considerable part,” said the retired diplomat.

Gorbachev, 91, died on Tuesday in Moscow. He became the general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in 1985, and in 1990 he became the first president of the USSR. He would also be the last, as the Soviet Union broke up at the end of 1991.

Kissinger was the US national security adviser from 1969 to 1975 and secretary of state between 1973 and January 1977.

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