On March 2, the great Russian peace lover Mikhail Gorbachev turned 91. It was the seventh day of Putin’s war in Ukraine.
Gorbachev is the son of a Russian father and a Ukrainian mother. His wife Raissa was also Ukrainian. He often referred to her affectionately as “My Ukrainian.” Such family ties between Russians and Ukrainians are numerous in both neighboring countries. This also makes the current war incomprehensible and absolutely senseless as any war.
In 2016, together with Mikhail Gorbachev, I wrote the book “Never Again War – Finally Come to Your Senses”. At that time, neither of us could have imagined how dramatically topical this book title would be five years later. Never again war?
Gorbachev at the time: “We are one humanity on one earth under one sun”.
Real peace, he said, “can be achieved only on the condition of demilitarized politics and demilitarized international relations. Politicians who think that problems and disputes can be solved by using military force – even as a last resort – should be rejected by society, they should clear the political stage.” No wonder Gorbachev and Putin could never become friends.
Just a few weeks ago, Gorbachev sent me an article for the newspaper Russia Global Affairs in which he writes: “No challenge or threat facing humanity in the 21st century can be solved militarily. No major problem can be solved by one country or group of countries in an all-out effort.”
In this article, a legacy of sorts, he lists the most urgent problems of our time as: abolishing nuclear weapons and overcoming mass poverty in the developing world, and saving the world’s climate.
When I had the privilege of presenting Gorbachev with a peace prize in Moscow in 2018, he named the three main tasks of our time as “disarm, disarm, disarm”. He meant Russia and NATO. “Only then will peace be possible”.
In response to my question about the danger of a nuclear war, he said, “A nuclear war would be the last war of mankind, because after that there would be no people left to fight another war.” This admonition is his real legacy. Through his disarmament efforts, 80% of all nuclear weapons worldwide were scrapped in the 1990s.
As the eighth and last Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev was General Secretary of the Communist Party from 1985 to 1991.
Today, no one is more predestined to promote a nuclear-free and peaceful world than the Nobel Peace Prize winner from Moscow.
I once asked him during a television interview where he got the strength for his visionary politics. He pointed to his wife Raissa, who was standing behind the camera, and said, “This is where my power is.” She laughed and waved back. For me, the Gorbachevs are the greatest political lovers of our time. We owe the end of the Cold War, peaceful German unity and perhaps even our survival to this couple. Gorbachev was the greatest disarmamentist of all time.
The result for today is: Putin’s country is not Russia! Especially we Germans should not forget that. The war against Ukraine, which is against international law, is not a war of the Russian people. Gorbachev in our book: “Non-violence in international relations and peaceful conflict resolution must become core points in the rulebook of international law.” I hardly dare to imagine how Mikhail Gorbachev may feel today in his secluded state apartment.
According to Mikhail Gorbachev: “The victor is not the one who wins battles in a war, but the one who makes peace.
- Mikhail Gorbachev “Listen to reason – War no more!: An Appeal from Mikhail Gorbachev to the world” (English Edition)
- Mikhail Gorbachev “An Appeal from Mikhail Gorbachev to the world” – (Russian Edition)