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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.
Delivering one of his most scathing attacks on the US, Mr Gorbachev told The Daily Telegraph that a US military build-up was under way to contain a resurgent Russia.
From Nato's expansion plans in the former Soviet Union to Washington's proposals for a bigger defence budget and a missile shield in central Europe, the US was deliberately quashing hopes for permanent peace with Russia, Mr Gorbachev said.