Mikhail Gorbachev was a man of remarkable vision.
When he came to power, the Cold War had lasted nearly 40 years and Communism even longer, with devastating results. Few senior Soviet officials had the courage to admit that things had to change. As a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I’ve seen him do that and more. As leader of the USSR, he worked with President Reagan to reduce the nuclear arsenals of both our countries, to the relief of those praying around the world for an end to the nuclear arms race. After decades of brutal political repression, he advocated democratic reforms. He believed in it glasnost and perestroika – Openness and restructuring – not as mere slogans, but as a way forward for the people of the Soviet Union after so many years of isolation and deprivation.
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. The result was a safer world and more freedom for millions of people.
Even years after leaving office, he was still very committed. When Mr. Gorbachev visited the White House in 2009, he and I spoke at length about our countries’ ongoing efforts to reduce American and Russian nuclear stockpiles. It was easy to understand why so many around the world valued him so highly.
We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends, and to everyone who has benefited from his belief in a better world.