The world is reacting to the death of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who helped bring down the Iron Curtain


Executives from around the world pay tribute to him Michael Gorbachevthe last leader of the Soviet Union, after news of his death on Tuesday at the age of 91.

In a statement, President Joe Biden called Gorbachev “a man of remarkable vision” and praised the reforms the Soviet leader enacted in the USSR’s final years.

“These were the actions of a rare leader — one with the imagination to see a different future is possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it,” Mr. Biden said. “The result was a safer world and more freedom for millions of people.”

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called Gorbachev “a unique statesman who changed the course of history”.

“The world has lost a preeminent global leader, committed multilateralist and tireless advocate of peace,” Guterres said wrote on twitter.

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted: “Mikhail Gorbachev was a trusted and respected leader. He played a crucial role in ending the Cold War and the fall of the Iron Curtain. He paved the way for a free Europe. We will not forget this legacy.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted that he “always admired the courage and integrity he showed in bringing the Cold War to a peaceful end”.

After coming to power in 1985, Gorbachev instituted policies that brought reforms and new openness to the communist regime that eventually led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1991 and the collapse of the Soviet state. During his tenure, he and US President Ronald Reagan signed the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev
President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev met in Washington, DC on December 8, 1987 for the signing of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

Ron Sandler/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty Images

In a statement Tuesday, Fred Ryan, executive chairman of the Reagan Foundation and Institute, wrote about how the two leaders went from adversaries to friends.

“It was with Secretary General Gorbachev that President Reagan finally had a long-awaited opportunity to forge a relationship that led to a lessening of tensions between Washington and Moscow and ultimately to a meaningful arms reduction,” Ryan wrote.

He added that former First Lady Nancy Reagan was touched when Gorbachev attended her late husband’s funeral in Washington, DC in 2004.

The George and Barbara Bush Foundation continued to write Twitter that the leaders “worked closely together to ensure that the end of the Soviet Union would be peaceful and bring freedom to millions throughout Eastern Europe”.

“President Bush has often said that President Gorbachev ‘stuck his neck out at a critical time in history to guarantee world peace.’ Our thoughts and prayers are with the Gorbachev family,” the foundation said.

Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who also served as national security adviser in the George W. Bush administration and an expert on Soviet affairs, remembered Gorbachev as “a man who tried to give his people a better life.”

“Without him and his courage”, she tweeted“It would not have been possible to end the Cold War peacefully.”

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