Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his “deep sympathies” over the loss of Mikhail Gorbachev while US President Joe Biden hailed the former Soviet president as a “rare leader” who made the world safer.
World leaders have paid tribute to Mikhail Gorbachev, the last leader of the Soviet Union who died in Moscow aged 91.
The man who played a major role in ending the Cold War was praised for being a “rare leader” who helped change the course of world history.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his “deep sympathies”, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian news agencies soon after his death was announced.
Peskov added that Putin would send a telegram of condolences to the late leader’s family and friends on Wednesday.
US President Joe Biden hailed as a “rare leader” who made the world safer.
“These were the acts of a rare leader – one with the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it,” Biden said.
“The result was a safer world and greater freedom for millions of people.”
“His desire for peace, his opposition to an imperialist vision of Russia won him the Nobel (peace) prize,” Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi said.
“These messages are all the more current in the face of the tragedy of the invasion of Ukraine.”
“A one-of-a-kind statesman who changed the course of history” and “did more than any other individual to bring about the peaceful end of the Cold War”, UN chief Antonio Guterres said in a statement.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed a “trusted and respected leader” who “opened the way for a free Europe”.
His “crucial role” in bringing down the Iron Curtain and ending the Cold War left a legacy “we will not forget”, she tweeted.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said Gorbachev’s “vision of a better world remains an example” and paid tribute to his “historic reforms… (which) opened the possibility of a partnership between Russia and NATO”.
Beijing paid tribute to Gorbachev for making “positive contributions to the normalisation of Sino-Soviet relations”.
“We mourn his death and express our condolences to his family,” foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he “always admired the courage and integrity” Gorbachev showed to help end the Cold War.
“In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all,” he said.
President Emmanuel Macron described Gorbachev as a “man of peace”, saying he “opened a path of liberty for Russians. His commitment to peace in Europe changed our shared history”.
“Mikhail Gorbachev was one of the 20th century’s most extraordinary figures,” President Isaac Herzog said in a statement.
“He was a brave and visionary leader, who shaped our world in ways previously thought unimaginable.”
READ MORE: Ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev dies aged 91