What Did Mikhail Gorbachev Really Think Of Donald Trump?

As the world reflects on Mikhail Gorbachev's death and legacy, many remember the former Russian president fondly. Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan worked together in the 1980s, bringing Russia and the United States together to end the Cold War — his leadership style, of course, greatly contrasts Vladimir Putin's unhinged behavior and the war he is currently waging in Ukraine. Even in his later years, while battling illness, Gorbachev sounded the alarm about the dangers of nuclear weapons. In 2019, the former Russian leader told the BBC, "As long as weapons of mass destruction exist, primarily nuclear weapons, the danger is colossal."

Leaders around the world are paying tribute to Gorbachev on social media. President of the EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, tweeted: "Mikhail Gorbachev was a trusted and respected leader. He played a crucial role to end the Cold War and bring down the Iron Curtain. It opened the way for a free Europe. This legacy is one we will not forget. R.I.P Mikhail Gorbachev." Michael McFaul, the former American ambassador to Russia, remembered the Russian leader by tweeting: "Sad to read of the passing of Mikhail Gorbachev. Hard to think of other individuals who changed the course of world history in a positive direction more than he did. Always enjoyed our conversations."

Gorbachev was a beloved world leader, but what did he really think of Donald Trump?

Mikhail Gorbachev thought Donald Trump was reckless

Mikhail Gorbachev thought Donald Trump was reckless and said Trump's nuclear disarmament ideas were not the work of "a great mind." In 2018, Gorbachev told Interfax (via The New York Times) that Trump's decision to withdraw from a Russian nuclear disarmament treaty that he helped build was "very strange." The 87-year-old leader said, "Do they really not understand in Washington what this can lead to?" Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan signed the treaty that Trump wanted to withdraw from in 1987. The former Russian president told Interfax, "All agreements aimed at nuclear disarmament and limiting nuclear weapons must be preserved, for the sake of preserving life on earth."

In 2017, the former Russian leader was growing worried about war and appeared concerned that Vladimir Putin and Trump were going in the wrong direction on nuclear weapons. Gorbachev asserted in an essay for TIME that "the presidents of two nations that hold over 90% of the world's nuclear arsenals," advocating for the United Nations to condemn nuclear war. The Washington Post reported that Trump discarded Gorbachev's advice and tweeted, "The United States must greatly strengthen and expand its nuclear capability."