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Mikhail Gorbachev calls for Ukraine unity


SHARJAH, United Arab Emirates (AP) - The political turmoil in Ukraine looks like "a real mess" but it is important that the country hold together in the battle for influence between Russia and the West, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Monday.

The 82-year-old Gorbachev made the comments during an interview with The Associated Press in the United Arab Emirates city of Sharjah.

He emphasized the need for outside mediation to ease tensions in Ukraine, which became an independent country following the 1991 dissolution of the Soviet Union that he once led.

Ukraine today is deeply divided between largely pro-Russian eastern regions and western areas that long for closer ties with the European Union.

"No one wants it to come apart. I think that today it's important not to tear it apart," Gorbachev said of Ukraine. "I recently appealed to the leaders of the United States and Russia to act perhaps as mediators. And that would also include the European Union."

The mediators, he continued, could play a role in ensuring "that the crisis we see in Ukraine does not result in this kind of dramatic breakup. Let us give the people a chance to agree on something."

Gorbachev was in the Emirates to address the International Government Communication Forum in Sharjah, which sits along the Persian Gulf coast just north of Dubai.

In his speech Sunday, he said the political tumult in Ukraine was ultimately the result of the government's failure to act democratically, engage in dialogue and fight corruption.

Demonstrators first began protesting late last year after President Viktor Yanukovych abandoned an agreement that would have strengthened his country's ties with the European Union in favor of seeking closer cooperation with Moscow.

"It looks like there is a real mess there and that the leaders of Ukraine proved unable to reach a kind of consensus in the country, in Ukrainian society. And that's why those issues became so acute," Gorbachev said. "There's a new Ukraine and it should find its own niche."

Ukraine's acting government is seeking the arrest of Yanukovych, whose whereabouts are uncertain, over accusations of mass crimes against protesters. Snipers fired on demonstrators last week during the bloodiest violence in Ukraine's post-Soviet history.

Gorbachev suggested Monday that no single outside power could dominate Ukraine's future.

"If the European Union wants to have things its own way, the United States wants to have things their own way, and Russia wants to have things its own way, I think that would be wrong," he said.

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Ol Bob February 24 2014 at 2:43 PM

Russia and the world will be sorry they have Putin in charge instead of Gorbachev.

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thomtacoma February 24 2014 at 1:40 PM

I Think Gorbachev have the best answer to the problem

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dracura94 February 24 2014 at 3:25 PM

Mikhail Gorbachev will always be remembered as America's favorite Soviet leader. He "got it". Putin on the other hand is a throwback who can't think outside the box. Gorbachev has a much greater understanding of the history and structure of the Soviet Union and could play a very helpful role in resolving the Ukraine issue.

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1 reply
fabiolenoir dracura94 February 24 2014 at 3:29 PM

oh yeah.. Gorbachov and his communist army killed so many innocent people in AFGHANISTAN. No wonder the blood stain in his forehead is the blood of thousands of Afghan people. Shame on this man and he was never Aamerica's favorite man.

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lionel February 24 2014 at 1:28 PM

This old authoritarian approach using force and murder as a political solution only shows the world how old fashioned and backward some of these Russian leaders are. The jailing of the ***** Riot women musicians (in front of the whole world) only proves that dinosaurs die hard. Arab spring or Ukrainian Autumn, a new generation is not going to be turned away from taking over an old power with old backward thinking to rule people. People want freedom and justice all over the world and indeed today "the whole world is a stage" -- live on the Internet!! It's a Brave New World.....

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jdcoderus February 24 2014 at 3:27 PM

I think Gorby got a point :
"If the European Union wants to have things its own way, the United States wants to have things their own way, and Russia wants to have things its own way, I think that would be wrong," he said.
They should stay together, have elections, referendum and decide what they want. Warning that " if Russia will use military, it will have grave consequences" right after having phone conversation with Putin was not a "great diplomacy" to help solve the crisis from Obama. I don't think there are any plans on use of force. Russia did provided Ukraina with $3 B first installment of financial interest free loan to help them with debt of $15B. As far as Eastern Ukrainians, Russians, Greeks, Romanians, Jewish population in the East, they should be heard and taken into consideration,too.
When Serbian ethnic Albanians in Kosovo declared independence ( they didn't plan to join Albania) EU, NATO and of course US immediately recognized a new " country" . Our foreign policy is non-existent, and have been nothing but huge pain in the neck with very serious , deadly results for our military and military and civilian populations of every country where Presidents and Congress from both parties decide to get involved ..militarily, of course. I hope we not going to send troops to Europe, Syria, Iran, China, North Korea, Venezuela to make military industrial complex even richer, and US population poorer, with economy still in recession. I wonder how Obama would react if Mexico pulls out of NAFTA and joins leftist latin American countries plus Cuba to create Latin American Union - will they let them go, or will they send in marines ?

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Escalonz February 24 2014 at 3:35 PM

In 1992 the so called velvet divorce took place in what was then called Czechoslovakia and remains to this day a successful separation of two states/countries. The conditions are of course not the exact same as present day Ukraine but nevertheless prove that it can be done if done in a Democratic way. Like in all divorces it was a sad time but if it works then certainly it was/is justified.

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2 replies
Brian Hope Escalonz February 24 2014 at 3:48 PM

Exactly what I've been saying!

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Brian Hope Escalonz February 24 2014 at 4:00 PM

Too bad we didn't apply that solution to dividing Iraq into three uni-ethnic nation-states.

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mosesdf12 February 24 2014 at 3:41 PM

I think the people of Ukraine need to wake up, especially the western part. Why do you thinkRussia did not act to prevent the success of the revolution? They want Crimea and the Baltic sea ( The Eastern part of Ukraine..and the same thing that happen to Georgia will happen here too. Russia will claim part of that country ..It will be divided and nothing can be done about it. The western part who wants to join the EU will fall under the power of IMFand the world bank..Their industrial sector will be privatized and poverty will become rampant..
SO Ukrainians wake up. Smell the Coffee.. The US and EU just want a peace of the cake as Russia do..

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1 reply
Brian Hope mosesdf12 February 24 2014 at 3:59 PM

Sorry, but the neo-Soviet Empire is by far the greater of two evils.

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dean.hall1 February 24 2014 at 3:57 PM

Ukraine should not abandon all relations with Russia because of a shared history and the fact that many Ukrainian citizens came from Russia during the Soviet Union. But they need to have strong relations with the UE and the US for a more prosperous future.

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1 reply
billhinds dean.hall1 February 24 2014 at 4:34 PM

I wouldn't exactly call it a "shared history" the wholesale slaughter, exploitation and pillage of the Ukraine.

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fred February 24 2014 at 3:58 PM

The three items he referred to in order for the area to remain together should be looked at by the two party clowns screwing up this country. It would go a long way from preventing more polarization.

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kwt49 February 24 2014 at 1:13 PM

It is good to hear from a moderate. The situation in Kiev is like a fire storm consuming everything in its path. I consider Gorbachev's comments worthy and hope those who want to add its disunity to their collection of scalps think many times over before deciding that they know best.

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