The last president of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, died at the age of 91 on Tuesday after a long and painful illness.
The politician, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, is known for his role in the process that ended the cold war.
During his six-year term between 1985 and 1991, Gorbachev forged arms treaties with the U.S., and signed partnerships with Western countries. Those historic agreements lifted the Iron Curtain that had divided Europe since World War II and allowed the reunification of Germany.
“As leader of the USSR, he worked with President (Ronald) Reagan to reduce our two countries’ nuclear arsenals … After decades of brutal political repression, he embraced democratic reforms,” President Joe Biden said.
Widely praised in the Western world, Gorbachev was also criticized in the former Soviet Union and labeled as the person who allowed the USSR to collapse.
Russia President Vladimir Putin once called the economic and political liberalization promoted by Gorbachev as the “greatest geopolitical catastrophe” of the 20th century.
After presidents and leaders expressed their condolences for Gorbachev’s death, it took Putin more than 15 hours to say the former president had a huge impact on the course of world history and that he “deeply understood that reforms were necessary” to tackle the problems of the Soviet Union was facing back in the 1980s.