Soaring tensions between the United States and Russia have brought the world to a “dangerous point,” Mikhail Gorbachev warned on Monday.
The former Soviet leader’s intervention came amid a collapse in East-West relations over the war in Syria that has seen the Kremlin openly threaten to shoot down Western aircraft, drawing comparisons with the worst crises of the Cold War.
“I think the world has reached a dangerous point,” Mr Gorbachev, 85, told state news agency RIA Novosti.
“I don't want to give any concrete prescriptions but I do want to say that this needs to stop. We need to renew dialogue. Stopping it was the biggest mistake.”
The United States suspended months of talks with Russia over Syria on October 3, accusing Russia of ripping up a ceasefire deal in order to launch a relentless aerial assault on rebel-held areas of Aleppo.
John Kerry, the US Secretary of State, called on Russia and the Syrian government to be investigated for war crimes over the Aleppo campaign, a call that was echoed by France’s foreign minister on Monday.
Russia in response has accused the US of “unfriendly” actions, and deployed nuclear-capable missiles to its Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, and warned that it would shoot down Western aircraft if the US launched airstrikes against pro-government targets in Syria.
Vladimir Putin also pulled out of and arms-control agreement aimed at reprocessing weapons-grade plutonium and demanded the US roll back its military commitment to Nato members in eastern Europe, saying that expansion of the alliance had threatened Russian security.