If anybody knows what circumstances herald the collapse of a superpower, it’s surely Mikhail Gorbachev. After all, the former Soviet president personally oversaw the downfall of the USSR, once America’s greatest global rival.
Now, the legendary statesman believes that this week’s storming of the Capitol in Washington is indicative of a threat to the US’ continued existence in its present form.
Speaking to Interfax, Gorbachev explained that the riots in Washington on January 6 “called into question the future fate of the United States as a state,” expressing confidence that the assault on the Capitol was planned in advance. He also believes it’s obvious who was responsible.
In 1991, Gorbachev himself was the target of a failed coup d’état, when disgruntled members of the Soviet Communist Party tried to overthrow the country’s Western-leaning leadership.
“The assault on the Capitol was evidently planned in advance, and it is clear by whom,” Gorbachev said, presumably referring to the leadership of the administration of President Donald Trump.
It will take some time, but we will understand why this was really done,” he explained.
The home of the American legislature was stormed earlier this week during what was supposed to be a special session of Congress to approve the results of the 2020 presidential election. Pro-Trump supporters burst into the Capitol building, leaving at least five dead. It was the first time the Capitol had been overrun since the British Army took it over in 1814.
The former Soviet leader also spoke about the modern relationship between the US and Russia, including the future possibility of an arms race. In 1987, Gorbachev and then-US President Ronald Reagan signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), one of many agreements which Washington ended during Trumps’ leadership. In his opinion, the “new generation” will reject the idea of an arms race, believing that there will be a “turn towards detente.”
“People who do not want war will unite, and their leaders will have to find a way out,” he said. “They will find new forms of treaties which take into account new types of weapons. We must not lose hope. I don’t lose hope in young people.”
Since Trump came to power in 2017, Washington has reduced its participation in international organizations. In 2018, the US withdrew from UNESCO and from the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). A year later, Trump pulled his country out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), and in 2020, it left the Open Skies Treaty. Furthermore, on February 5, a fortnight after Joe Biden is due to be sworn in as president, the US will depart from the New START nuclear arms reduction pact, unless the Kremlin and White House quickly come to an understanding.