Russia Needs Good U.S. Ties, Gorbachev Says, but Not 'At Any Cost'

Former Soviet Union leader Michael Gorbachev has said he hopes President-Elect Joe Biden's victory in last week's U.S. election will lead to better Washington, D.C.-Moscow ties, though has urged caution about how much the Kremlin is willing to sacrifice.

Gorbachev, now 89, regularly speaks on Russia's international relations. He oversaw the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s and has since been a vocal proponent of multilateral cooperation and arms restrictions.

Gorbachev has been critical of President Donald Trump's administration, suggesting hawks within the government were intentionally undermining landmark arms control agreements, some of which Gorbachev helped craft.

Gorbachev told Russia's state-backed Tass new agency Sunday that Biden's victory over Trump could open the door to a more measured relationship with the U.S.

The former Soviet premier described Biden as "a well-known person with a lot of experience both in domestic and foreign policy." Gorbachev said he had met with Biden several times while the latter was serving as vice president in President Barack Obama's two administrations.

"I have met with him several times; the last time was in March 2009," Gorbachev told Tass. "He was Vice President then. We spoke for nearly an hour at the White House, and then President Obama joined us," he explained. "We had a detailed and friendly conversation. I got the impression that he understands the importance of relations with Russia."

"I hope that Joe Biden will strive to normalize relations and recover trust between our countries. I am confident that this is in the interest of both America and Russia," Gorbachev added.

"There was a great deal of interest in this election across the world, and this is understandable. This is the place of the U.S. in global politics: relations with America are important to everyone, to every country," Gorbachev told Tass.

"I am confident that Russia needs good relations with the U.S. as well, but not at any cost, of course."

Russian state-linked media organizations were pessimistic about a future Biden administration ahead of the election. Many expect Biden to take a tough line on Russia given Moscow's repeated meddling in American and other foreign elections since 2016, plus the Kremlin's aggressive military and covert actions abroad before and during Trump's term.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is yet to congratulate Biden on his election. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Monday: "We consider it correct to wait for the official results of the elections to be announced."

"There they are facing certain legal procedures that were announced by the incumbent president, which makes this situation different," Peskov added. "So we deem it as correct to wait for the official announcement."

Joe Biden, Russia, Vladimir Putin, Mikhail Gorbachev
People watch a television news programme reporting on the U.S. presidential election showing an image of President-Elect Joe Biden, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, on November 9, 2020. JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images/Getty