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Mikhail Gorbachev has accused the United States of mounting an imperialist conspiracy against Russia that could push the world into a new Cold War.
With Dmitry Medvedev due to be inaugurated today as Russian president, the Soviet Union's last leader said that the White House's claims of peaceful intentions towards its former superpower rival could no longer be trusted.
"The problem is not with Russia," he said, speaking at a friend's château outside Paris.
"Russia does not have enemies and Putin is not going to start a war against the United States or any other country for that matter.
"Yet we see the United States approving a military budget and the defence secretary pledging to strengthen conventional forces because of the possibility of a war with China or Russia.
"I sometimes have a feeling that the United States is going to wage war against the entire world."