Yes, you read me right, although this has not been reported in any English language media. You are learning about it for the first time unless you follow Russian language media.
NTT, one of the Russian TV networks, has been producing a series of one hour shows that are basically making the case for an aggressive stance towards its neighbors and the West more generally. Many issues have been dragged through and many claims made. One that has made it into the English language Russian media such as Russia Today is the claim that a promise was made to Gorbachev that NATO would not expand eastward if Germany was allowed to reunify. Though the USSR made such a demand, no such promise was ever made and indeed Russia was invited to join NATO around 2000, which it declined to do. However, this claim has been repeated regularly, and I see quite a few Americans repeating it also as if this justifies Russia violating its 1993 promise to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine if Ukraine would turn over its nuclear weapons to Russia, which it did.
Another theme that has been hammered a great deal are claims that Gorbachev was bribed monetarily by the westerners to bring about an end to the Soviet domination of eastern Europe and then to bring about the end of the USSR itself. Raisa's spending sprees have been mentioned in this regard, although the first of those, which got the most attention, occurred when she and Gorby visited London in late 1984, prior to his becoming top leader. This was when Margaret Thatcher declared that he was "a man we can do business with." While it was widely reported at the time that she was using an American Express card, apparently that was false. They simply turned the bills over to the Soviet embassy in London to pay for her spending spree. No western money behind that one, although, of course, nobody can rule out that somehow Gorbachev may have received secret payments that nobody has ever heard of. OTOH, more likely this is just made up lies by the Putin propaganda machine.
Well, all of this is more or less par for the course, but a very disturbing event happened on one of these shows, a moment where more than on any other or for that matter pretty much any public appearance that Putin has ever made, he completely lost it and was yelling with a highly raised voice. The topic is disturbing, particularly given that it appears that he was lying when he engaged in this conduct. The matter involved the final nuclear weapons reduction deal signed between the US and the still-then existing USSR, on July 31, 1991, only about two and half weeks before the August 19 coup that led to Gorbachev effectively losing power and the Soviet Communist Party effectively ceasing to exist. It was the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, signed on that date by Gorbachev and then-US President George H.W. Bush.
Putin claims that this treaty was massively unfair, and that this was the ultimate betrayal and treason by Gorbachev, presumably also for which he got paid off. I would think that Gorbachev should stay out of Russia for the time being, given the garbage being spouted off about him by Putin and his flunkies, with some Russian legislators demanding that he be jailed for treason.
Was the treaty unfair? The basis for making such a case is that the USSR agreed, and Russia carried it out with the treaty finally being fulfilled in 2001 just after Putin took over, to reduce its nuclear weapons stocks by a larger amount than did the US. This is true. However, the final outcome of this was that both nations ended up with equal sized nuclear weapons stocks, 6,000 weapons each, about a 30% reduction for the US and a 40% reduction for Russia (who inherited the nuclear weapons that had been located in Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan previously). So, Putin is all enraged, and I mean seriously enraged, that this previous "advantage" was given up, although to this observer this seems like a pretty ridiculous advantage that did not amount to anything in practical terms. Both sides had and still have enough nuclear weapons to totally destroy each other, as some Russian commentators have recently reminded us by pointing out that Russia is capable of "turning the US into nothing but radioactive dust." Thanks, guys.
Another part of this speech that had Putin yelling and screaming was a completely false claim that the treaty involved the US being able to tell USSR/Russia where it could have its military bases, without Russia having the same right with regard to the US. This is just complete and utterly false nonsense. The treaty did set up sites where each side could monitor the other's activity. One of those curiously enough was in Ukraine, and after 1995, the US stopped using that site. But, I do not see how this fits Putin's bizarre and apparently hysterical claim.
I find this seriously disturbing. We have seen reports that Putin essentially lives in a bubble, surrounded by total sycophants. He supposedly gets reasonably accurate intel reports, but who knows? We have seen the Russians spouting absolutely looney propaganda in their media, such as the wild claim of now-deposed rebel Minister of Defense in Donetsk, Igor Strelkov, that the downed Malaysian plane was full of already dead people. I am very concerned that in his isolated cocoon, Vladimir Putin is beginning to believe some of his own nation's more ridiculous and phoney propaganda. But this business of him losing it over totally false garbage about US-Russian nuclear treaties is extremely worrisome, at least to me, and it coincides with reports that indeed there has been a pretty much total breakdown in all cooperation between the two nations in terms of carrying out the successor to START, which Obama signed with then-President Medvedev in 2011 and struggled mightily to get barely ratified in the US Senate. In any case, I find this development to be by far the most disturbing of all that I have heard about so far in the current deterioration of relations between Russia and the rest of the world, especially the United State. I see nothing good coming of this, and potentially extremely bad things coming of it.
BTW, it appears that even most of the Moscow intelligentsia, usually cynical and critical of the government and able to see through obvious propaganda, is just sopping this up and totally accepting pretty much nearly all of it. This is also a matter of considerable concern to me. It is disturbing to essentially see an entire great nation just completely lose its mind in an orgy of aggressive frenzy, with this extending even to wild threats of nuclear destruction and false claims about supposedly unfair nuclear treaties unfairly arrived at.