Yes, Mikhail Gorbachev deserves the world's thanks as a great peacemaker. No, he did not set out to end the Soviet Union in order to end the Cold War.
Gorbachev's goals were to end the arms race and to restructure the Soviet Union as a socialist democracy.
He achieved the first of these goals by negotiating and signing treaties with Reagan and with George Bush Senior — the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in 1987 and the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) in 1991.
Both treaties were signed while the Soviet Union was a going concern.
Gorbachev's efforts to restructure the Soviet Union itself led to internal conflict and polarisation.
On one hand, there were those who saw no need for democratisation. Including the military and security leaders who attempted a coup d'état in August 1991.
On the other hand, there were people like Russia's Boris Yeltsin and Ukraine's Leonid Kravchuk, who wanted the Union to end, and were able to make that happen....