Addressing the growing diplomatic divide between the two superpowers, former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Monday the United States and Russia have come to a “dangerous point” over the conflict in Syria, Agence France Press reported.
Gorbachev, 85, who was the final leader of the Soviet Union until it was officially dissolved in 1991, was commenting on the U.S.’ decision last week to sever talks with Russia over how to assuage the five-year long civil war in Syria.
"I think the world has reached a dangerous point," Gorbachev said to state news agency RIA Novosti. "I don't want to give any concrete prescriptions but I do want to say that this needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue. Stopping it was the biggest mistake."
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry told reporters Tuesday that bilateral discussions over the “cessation of the hostilities agreement,” which was struck last month, were ending over Russia’s continued bombing of the Syrian capital of Aleppo, according to CNN.
Russia, in response to Kerry’s comments, reportedly ended an agreement on converting weapons grade uranium and another on for plutonium with the U.S. However, Russia said the dissolutions were due to sanctions imposed by the U.S. over Russia’s taking of the Crimea in Ukraine two years ago, according to Reuters.
Capable of providing a unique perspective after living and working through the decades-long Cold War, Gorbachev’s comments carry significant weight as he was also part of several groundbreaking and tension-easing nuclear pacts with the U.S. that eventually saw the end to the Cold War.
"It is necessary to return to the main priorities. These are nuclear disarmament, the fight against terrorism, the prevention of an environmental disaster," Gorbachev said. "Compared to these challenges, all the rest slips into the background."
Nixing nuclear deals and escalating issues over how to end the Syrian conflict are only part of the problem between Moscow and Washington. Russia has also been pushing the buttons of the U.S. NATO allies like France, the United Kingdom and Spain by most recently flying two of its bombers up and down the western Atlantic coast last month. The military exercise also resulted in accusations from Iceland, which claimed Russia’s bombers flew too close to a commercial flight.
Gorbachev, however, has still shown loyalties to Russia even if he is calling for better diplomacy with an old enemy. In May, the Ukraine imposed a ban on Gorbachev after he supported the annexation of the Crimea.