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Gorbachev says British leadership panders to the United States

0 Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev accused the United Kingdom's government of creating problems for itself by trying to please only the United States at the expense of other partners.

Discussing the ongoing row between the U.K. and Russia over Moscow's refusal to extradite a murder suspect, Gorbachev said the British leadership "is trying to be a good partner only for the United States, and often ends up in situations for which it later finds it difficult to justify itself to its people."

"Russia sees this, and cannot encourage such an approach, but is ready to constructively resolve current problems," he told journalists in Moscow.

Gorbachev, 76, called for dialogue between Russian and British politicians to overcome the dispute.

"Our politicians should not be drawn into sharp statements, they need to bear in mind that Russia and Britain are linked by important ties - suffice to say that half a million Russians live in and around London alone," he said.

Earlier in the month Russian prosecutors formally refused to extradite Kremlin bodyguard-turned-businessman Andrei Lugovoi, accused by the U.K. of fatally poisoning former security officer Alexander Litvinenko last year.

Last week, Britain expelled four Russian diplomats and slapped visa restrictions on officials in protest against the extradition refusal. Russia's Constitution forbids the extradition of Russian nationals.

Moscow responded in kind, expelling British diplomats and announcing similar visa restrictions. The countries also suspended antiterrorism cooperation.

The former leader, who remains popular in the West for his role in the collapse of communism and who heads the Gorbachev Foundation socio-political think tank, said: "What's done is done; it's necessary to stop, and return to dialogue."
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