Kremlin: Gorbachev was too romantic about West

STORY: The Kremlin has described former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev as a statesman who altered world history, but whose, quote, "romanticism" about rapprochement with the West was misplaced.

Gorbachev's reforms heralded the end of the Cold War, and he is revered in the West as a champion of peace.

But they also hastened the collapse of the Soviet Union, and many Russians blame him for the economic turbulence and fall in living standards that followed.

Gorbachev died on Tuesday (August 30), aged 91.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday (August 31) Gorbachev's hopes for a "romance" with the West were unjustified and had to be corrected under President Vladimir Putin.

"He sincerely wanted to believe that it would end and an eternal romantic period between the new Soviet Union and the world, the "Collective West" as we call it, would come. That romanticism was not justified - there was no romantic period or "honey-sweet century". The bloodthirstiness of our opponents showed itself."

Putin served in the Soviet Union's KGB security service when Gorbachev was in power.

In a condolence telegram, he called Gorbachev a statesman who had "deeply understood" that the Soviet system needed to be reformed.

On the streets of Moscow, the response to his legacy was cool.

"It seemed to us back then that he was a person who could change the Soviet Union for the better. But then, when his time was coming to the end, it turned out that he is a person who broke up the Soviet Union, broke up a vast country..."

"I have a negative view of Mikhail Gorbachev's time in power. He did a lot of damaging things to our country. We are the ones facing the consequences."

In February, Putin launched what he called a "special military operation" against Ukraine, one of the 15 former Soviet republics.

He has lamented the collapse of the Soviet Union as the disintegration of, quote, "historical Russia" and said he would reverse it given half a chance.