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Gorbachev Says America Must Not Provoke Russian Democracy

Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union, says the United States should be patient with Russia, which he describes as a developing democracy. In a wide-ranging speech to a business conference at the Inter American Development Bank, Friday, Mr. Gorbachev reflected on the developments that led to the demise of the former Soviet Union and what Russia faces now.

Former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev sees in the Obama administration a chance for a new beginning for relations between Russia and America.

He says I hope America wants change.

Speaking at the Americas Business Council Reconciliation Forum in Washington, DC, Mr. Gorbachev was at times reflective about the past, protective about Russia's role in the world today, and hopeful that relations between the United States and Russia might improve under the Obama administration.

The former Soviet era president said the Soviet Union collapsed in part because of low oil prices in the 1980s while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin lucked out by coming into power at a time when oil prices were rising.

While he wished the Soviet Union was preserved and his plans for development and democracy in the 1980s were given more time to succeed, he said, in the end what should have happened, happened.

Mr.Gorbachev defends Russia's aggressive foreign policy. He said it is still a developing democracy and there are strong historical and ethnic ties among Russian and Ukrainians and Georgians.

He urges the United States to be more patient with Russia, and not try to provoke it by offering NATO membership to former Soviet states Ukraine and Georgia.

Mr.Gorbachev said the U.S. is, in large part, responsible for the global financial crisis. He said Russia was hit hard because the country did not use its energy profits to modernize and diversify its industries.

But he is impressed so far with President Barack Obama and says working together on nuclear disarmament, stabilizing world energy supplies, and preventing terrorism, the United States and Russia can make the world safer.