Mikhail Gorbachev warns global powers have put the world ‘on the brink of a new Cold War’

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Former Russian leader also voiced his support for current president Vladimir Putin amid rising tensions over Ukrainian conflict

His remarks come amid a time of increasingly tense relations between the United States and Russia.

The on-going conflict in Ukraine, which since erupting in protests in January has seen the country embroiled in a bloody civil war with thousands of civilians killed, has done little to ease the relationship between president Vladimir Putin and American leader Barack Obama.

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Mr Gorbachev suggested the West should lift sanctions imposed against senior Russian officials over the country’s support for separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine, while calling for new trust to be built through dialogue between Washington and Moscow.

Prior to his arrival in Germany, the former leader made an explicit declaration of his support for the current Russian leader: “I am absolutely convinced that Putin protects Russia’s interests better than anyone else.”

He warned that the Ukrainian situation offered the US an “excuse” to victimise Russia, in an interview with the Interfax news agency, and added that failure to secure lasting security in Europe would make the continent irrelevant on the world stage.

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