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Gorbachev to U.S.: Let's not repeat the Cold War

Story Highlights

• Former Soviet leader says U.S. has "lost credibility in the world"
• Mikhail Gorbachev says U.S. missile plans could bring new arms race
• U.S. wants to base part of missile defense system in Eastern Europe
• Gorbachev backs Russian President Vladimir Putin's objections to the plan
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MOSCOW, Russia (CNN) -- Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev said Wednesday that U.S. plans to build a missile defense shield in Europe are arrogant and threaten to usher in a new Cold War.

Speaking to CNN from Moscow as the Group of Eight Summit got under way in Germany, Gorbachev said the U.S. proposal -- which includes installations in Poland and the Czech Republic -- means that Europe is becoming a target again.

"I do hope the Cold War is not going to be repeated," he said. "We must take advantage of opportunities to avoid that." (Watch Gorbachev describe the U.S. plan as pitting Europe against Russia Video)

He said polls in the Czech Republic suggested that more than 70 percent of people opposed the missile defense program.

"There is the possibility that self-confidence, arrogance, will lead to a situation similar to that with the war in Iraq," Gorbachev warned in a wide-ranging discussion of American policy. "The U.S. is driving itself into a corner -- they've lost credibility in the world."

He said Washington's "intimidating" behavior is different from the spirit that existed after the end of the Cold War. "Europe is not a guinea pig," he said.

Gorbachev added that Russian President Vladimir Putin was right to say the anti-missile project is an attempt to set Europe against Russia. "We are being drawn into another arms race," he said.

Gorbachev was the leader of the Soviet Union from 1985 until its dissolution in 1991. He presided over a thaw in his country's icy relations with the United States and its move toward glasnost, or openness, in the 1980s. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1990.

On Iran, Gorbachev agreed that a nuclear-armed Tehran must be opposed. But he said that starting a war would be a "catastrophic mistake."

"Some people think that missiles can solve everything," he said, without specifying. "We were told in this way the problem of Iraq would be resolved."

Gorbachev said the international community had not yet exhausted political and diplomatic options and added that he sees no value to introducing sanctions against Iran.

Gorbachev said that Russian democracy is growing despite its problems. He noted that the courts don't work and some media outlets have made deals with the authorities. But there is now, he said, a relatively free press.

Russia is moving from a totalitarian regime to democracy, he said, but it is only halfway there.

Meanwhile, President Bush on Wednesday promised to work toward resolving the political tensions between the U.S. and Russia that threaten to overshadow this week's G8 gathering in Heiligendamm, Germany, near Rostock.

"Russia is not an enemy," Bush said when asked about Putin's threat to point missiles at European targets in protest of American plans for a Europe-based missile defense system. (Full story)

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Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev says that "the U.S. is driving itself into a corner."

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