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MOSCOW – Escalation of tension between Russia and Ukraine the question arises as to what went wrong. The Cold War ended with such fanfare three decades ago that many people believed the world would get better, at least in terms of geostrategic stability, and many diplomats were deeply disappointed by recent events.
Pavel Palazhchenko, translator of former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev is one of them.
He relived the historic moments that led to the end of the Cold War, side by side with American and Soviet leaders, carefully conveying their messages. Palazchanka told Fox News that she hopes not all will be lost and that the spirit and lessons can come to mind in this time of crisis. While he acknowledged that much of the legacy left by former Presidents Reagan and Gorbachev has faded, something “is still with us,” he said.
“We still have the experience of two peoples who have worked very far together on many issues to solve some of the problems facing the world today,” Palazchanka continued. “Some of these problems were 30 or 40 years ago, but some are new and will be new. Without Russia and the United States, and I would add China and Europe, working on these problems anew, the world will be in an extremely difficult place.” He remarked.
Fox News asked Palazchanka what it was like to work for Gorbachev. “I enjoyed working on it, although it wasn’t all roses,” he said, explaining that the process of ending the Cold War was, oddly enough, very difficult. “But I was very proud that we succeeded. I was very proud that in 1988, when President Reagan was in Moscow, I was standing near Tsar Pushcha and [someone] when asked if he considered the Soviet Union an evil empire, he said no. It was a different time, a different era. This was one of the main points, ”the translator said.
Palazhchenko’s career also included working with President George W. Bush, who was indeed in office when the Cold War officially ended. The translator said he especially enjoyed watching the relationship between Reagan and Gorbachev develop. Asked if he had ever seen harsh rhetoric between the two sides at the level observed today, he said he may not have personally, but heard Reagan talk harshly to Gorbachev.
“I was present during that difficult beginning when Reagan began a one-on-one conversation calling for Marxism-Leninism, criticizing Marxist-Leninist dogmas, saying that it sowed hostility and class struggle around the world, and continued this profanity several times. minutes, ”Palazchanka said.
However, he added that Gorbachev eventually found his own. “He was happy that Reagan said we needed arms reductions, not arms control, and they started talking to [Reykjavík, Iceland] about a world without nuclear weapons, – said Palazchanka. – Gorbachev very shrewdly acknowledged Reagan’s aversion to nuclear weapons. In many respects, they were poles, but Gorbachev was convinced that Reagan was in fact renouncing nuclear weapons, and Gorbachev said, “This is what we share.” We can make it work. “
He repeated: “These were the highlights of my career, and I don’t know if I will see a return to these goals and the two countries working on these goals in my lifetime, but I would like it to happen.”
Palazhchanka, who was employed at the Gorbachev Center and published a recent document on reducing military risks in Europe, said he believed there was a diplomatic solution to everything. He argued that the state of relations between the West and Russia was due to mutual frustration caused by too many illusions on both sides about what life would be like together and separately after the Cold War.
The West, Palazhchenko said, had ignored Russian security concerns for too long and thus did not understand Russia’s thinking or psychology. “It has an effect,” he said. “We are all human. Russia’s leaders are people, so when they repeatedly raise the issue of NATO enlargement and the process continues relentlessly, it is outrageous. “
Of course, there is a strong chorus of voices calling NATO enlargement a “red herring” and a reason to get a real award, Ukraine, which President Vladimir Putin just wants to get at any cost.
Palazchanka said Gorbachev was worried about how it was happening. He said the former Soviet leader had always felt that if Russia and Ukraine were divided, there would be problems, but not necessarily of this kind. “He always warned that things could happen between Russia and Ukraine that could be very dangerous, but he always did everything he could to bring the two nations closer, rather than seeing the continuation of this gap that we now see widening. So it is very tragic for him emotionally, ”Palazhchanka told Fox News.
And it is tragic for all those families who have split up because of this confrontation.
Palazhchanka said that, in his opinion, the “megaphone diplomacy” of the moment may need to go down, and that some quieter work will be more effective. But, for its part, the United States, which was caught when Russia seized Crimea in 2014, made a strategic decision to try to accuse Russia of wrongdoing before it happened. Time will tell whether this will have the intended effect or force Russia to go deeper. So far, an estimated 150,000 Russian soldiers threatening Ukraine do not seem to be going anywhere, and many ordinary people from Kiev to Kharkiv and Moscow are very worried about what will happen next.
Palazchanka told Fox News that the Cold War ended in part because it may have been almost predestined, or because it was on its own, but much of its findings were driven by personality.
“Today we need leaders to do their job,” he said. “If they begin the process of unraveling this mess that we are witnessing, they will gain the support of the Russian and American people.”