The Straits Times says

Gorbachev paved way for peaceful ties

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Russian President Vladimir Putin's lack of affection for Mr Mikhail Gorbachev, who died last week, is no secret. He chose not to attend the low-key funeral accorded to the last Soviet leader. Were the times different, leaders from across the world might have arrived in Moscow to eulogise Mr Gorbachev for his role in ending the Cold War and tearing down the Berlin Wall. In his home country, he evoked mostly hostility for catalysing the dissolution of the Soviet Union and triggering years of chaos, although that was not his intent. In Mr Putin's words, the collapse of the Soviet Union was the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century". Still, Mr Gorbachev's life offers at least some object lessons in leadership for Mr Putin six months into Russia's unprovoked military offensive in Ukraine.

For all his perceived faults, Mr Gorbachev was not blind to obstacles that blocked Russia's progress and he furthered a desire to connect with the world that now stands shattered, no thanks to the Ukraine conflict. Underlying his twin reforms of perestroika (restructuring) and glasnost (openness) was his conviction that the Soviet system was not delivering prosperity to its citizens. As he pursued reforming the system, he did not anticipate the domino-like fall of the Soviet republics and their rush to break from Moscow. But when they did, he recognised that countries had the freedom to choose their political future and, mostly, abjured using force to retain them even at the cost of personal power.

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