I decided to analyse the topic,
called “The Cuban missile crisis”. My work consists of seven chapters and 15
Imagine going about your life knowing that, at
any given moment, you and everyone you know could be wiped out without warning
at the push of a button. This
was the reality for millions of people during the forty-five-year period after
World War II now known as the Cold War. As the United States and the Soviet Union
faced off across the globe each knew that the other had nuclear weapons capable
of destroying it. And destruction never loomed closer than during the thirteen
days of the Cuban missile crisis.
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day when the calendar could end” – as contemporaries called the “Black
Sabbath” on October 27, 1962. The Cuban missile crisis, which almost
became the beginning of a full-scale nuclear war between the United States of
America and the Soviet Union.
After the Cuban Revolution Fulgencio
Batista was replaced by the Fidel Castro. In its turn, Fidel Castro severed
well-established relations with the US and was interested in creation on
relations with the Soviet Union, and it became a key moment of the history of
the Caribbean Crisis, which led to serious consequences – operation Anadyr and
main aim of my course paper is to analyse the situation from the contemporary
point of view and try to find the answer to the question: If this were happening now, the US president would have had two tweets on
his “Twitter” so beloved, to make a statement about the end of the
acute confrontation with the USSR. But could Trump show the same wisdom as John
1961, the United States deployed 15 medium-range missiles PGM-19
“Jupiter” in Turkey with a time of about 10 minutes. They
“covered” the territory of the European part of the USSR. At that
time, the Americans had a significant advantage over the Soviets in terms of
the number of nuclear warheads (6,000 against 300) and in delivery vehicles.
Placement of missiles near the border of the USSR was perceived as a flagrant
violation of parity. Khrushchev learned about this by accident during a visit
to Bulgaria in May 1962. He took US actions as a personal insult, and, in order
to restore balance, proposed the deployment of Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba.
On another hand USSR and the USA had a
confrontation over Berlin – Khrushchev could use the excuse for an equivalent
blockade or attack to Berlin in case if the Americans blockade or attacked
Cuba. “So that whatever
we do in regard to Cuba,” Kennedy said, “it gives him the chance to do the same with regard to Berlin”. 1Furthermore, Kennedy
thought, the European alliance would not understand why America felt necessary
to attack Cuba and allies would blame the USA if they lose Berlin which split
the alliance and the USSR would be the winner.
This he probably wanted to kill two birds with
one stone: to deter any active US intervention or overthrow the Castro regime
and support Fidel Castro, who had long and persistently asked for Soviet troops
to be sent to Cuba to protect them from Americans who had shortly before
attempted to overthrow the Cuban government (“Landing in the Bay of Pigs”).
The operations to transfer medium-range missiles R-12 and R-14 to Cuba were
called “Anadyr”. All the accompanying cargo was told that they were
going to Chukotka. To the ports for validity, whole wagons of fur coats and
sheepskins were driven. Captains involved in the operation of 85 ships were
handed sealed bags, which should be opened in the sea in the presence of the
deputy police officer.
However, despite all the secrecy
measures, the military understood: it is impossible to hide missiles from the
U-2 American reconnaissance aircraft that regularly fly over Cuba. The plan was
developed in advance, taking into account that the Americans will find Soviet
missiles before they all are mounted. In places of unloading in Cuba, several
anti-aircraft batteries were placed.
The antiaircraft guns had an
unexpected effect: at the end of August they were spotted by reconnaissance
planes, but President John F. Kennedy told Congress that there were no
offensive missiles in Cuba, and for a whole month banned flights over the
island so that the accidentally shot down American aircraft did not lead to an
escalation of the conflict. President Kennedy also speculated that actions of
Soviet Union were the strategic balance of power. During this time, the Soviet
military brought and unloaded all the missiles, began to build positions for
Meanwhile, in the ruling circles of the United
States, the initiative was intercepted by “hawks” – reconnaissance
flights over the territory of Cuba passed to the Air Force. On October 4, 1962,
a reconnaissance aircraft, piloted by Major Richard Heiser, photographed Soviet
medium-range ballistic missiles near the village of San Cristobal. In the
evening of the same day, information was brought to the attention of the US
military leadership. On the morning of October 16, photos were shown to the
president. Diplomatic measures were rejected immediately. Robert
Kennedy argued for a ‘combination of the blockade route and the air strike
route’. It means that blockade would be coupled with a 72-hour interval from
the demand to the action of an ultimatum demanding a removal of the missiles.
The USA would proceed with an air strike if the Russians did not comply.
On October 22, John Kennedy addressed the
American people (and the Soviet government) in a television speech.
He confirmed the presence of missiles in Cuba
and declared a naval blockade in the form of a quarantine zone about 1000 km
around the coast of the island. He warned that the armed forces “are ready
for any development of events” and condemned the Soviet Union for
“secrecy and misleading”. 2Khrushchev replied that the
blockade was illegal and any ship under the Soviet flag would ignore it. Nevertheless,
the blockade entered into force on October 24 at 10:00. By this time, 30 Soviet
ships and ships, including the Aleksandrovsk, carrying nuclear warheads on
board, were going to Cuba.
On October 24, Khrushchev received a short
telegram from Kennedy calling for “showing prudence” and
“observing the terms of the blockade.” Khrushchev responded by
sending a sharp letter to the US president and calling quarantine “the
violation of freedom to use international water and international airspace is an
act of aggression pushing humanity toward of a world nuclear-missile war,”
and warned: “captains of Soviet ships will not comply with the regulations
of the US Navy.”
On October 25, Kennedy gave an order to
increase the combat readiness of the US Armed Forces to the level of DEFCON-2
(the first and only known case in the history of the United States). On the
same day, Kennedy received a letter to the Kremlin in which he indicated that
“the Soviet side has broken its promises against Cuba and misled it.”
On the morning of October 26, Khrushchev wrote
a letter to Kennedy, where he proposed to dismantle Cuban missiles and return
them to the USSR, in exchange, the Americans will never invade Cuba. Both
reports came in the afternoon on Saturday, October 27, and in the evening an
American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft was destroyed by a Soviet air defense
group attack when approaching Guantanamo. The pilot, Major Rudolf Andersen,
died. On this day, the world was closest to a global nuclear war, therefore it
was called the “Black Sabbath”.
On the night of October 27 to October 28,
President Robert Kennedy’s brother Robert met with the Soviet ambassador to the
US Anatoly Dobrynin. Kennedy shared with the Dobrynin fears of the president
that “the situation is about to get out of control and threatens to breed
a chain reaction.” Robert Kennedy said that his brother is ready to give
guarantees of non-aggression and the early lifting of the blockade from Cuba.
The next morning, the Kremlin received a
message from John F. Kennedy, confirming the Americans’ readiness to lift the
blockade and give assurances of non-aggression in response to the withdrawal of
Soviet missiles from there. Khrushchev replied with consent. His answer was
decided to be broadcasted on the radio. An hour before the broadcast of Nikita
Khrushchev’s message (16:00 Moscow time), Minister of Defense of the USSR
Malinovsky sent an order to begin dismantling the launch pad P-12.
Peaceful resolution of the crisis did not
satisfy everyone. Thus, General Curtis LeMay, the commander-in-chief of the US
Air Force, called it “the worst defeat in our history.” Nevertheless,
the crisis was a turning point in the nuclear race and the “cold war”
– its end marked the beginning of a period of detente intense relations.
Guarantees of non-aggression in Cuba are observed by the US so far. American
missiles in Turkey were safely dismantled.
missiles” in Turkey
The Cuban missile crisis was preceded by the Suez
Crisis in 1957 and the Berlin Crisis in 1961. And already in 1962, the world
came to the brink of an armed conflict and a nuclear war, which was avoided by
The immediate cause was the actions of Khrushchev, but
the prerequisites for that were in the politics of the US and the Soviet Union.
These include the confrontation in Europe, the arms race, the deployment of
American medium-range missiles in Turkey and in Europe. And most importantly –
a huge program of strategic arms build-up, begun in the US with the election of
President John F. Kennedy. In just six years, from 1961 to 1967, the US
ground-based and sea-launched missile forces increased forty-fold! Seeing the
powerful build-up of armaments by Washington, Khrushchev understood that the
Soviet Union lags far behind and is therefore vulnerable. He himself was not
deceived by the bluff that the USSR is ahead of the US. Hence the attempt, at
least for a while, to reduce the gap due to the transfer of medium-range
missiles to Cuba, from where they reached the United States and thus obtained
strategic potential. Directly Khrushchev’s actions served as a trigger for the
crisis, but the prerequisites for it arose not in October 1962, but much
Did he risk and how much, aiming to remove American
Jupiter and Thor missiles from Turkey and Great Britain? Now we see that the
risk was great, but the political goal was achieved.
Formally, John Kennedy did not give any assurances but
promised not to take action to overthrow the Castro regime in Cuba.
Khrushchev seized the promise
since the US will not attack Cuba, the USSR withdraws of missiles from Cuba.
of further development of conflict
The Americans saw only three possible options: to
destroy missiles with pinpoints, to conduct a full-scale military operation in
Cuba or to introduce a naval blockade of the island. The Joint Chiefs of Staff
wanted an invasion to eliminate the missile threat, thereby finally putting end
to a main Soviet outpost in the western hemisphere. While the Secretary of
Defense McNamara raised the idea of blockading future weapons shipments to
Cuba, but his suggestion did nothing about the missiles already deployed there
except to warn the Soviets not to use them.
“Hawks” in the face of generals Taylor and Air
Force chief of staff Curtis LeMay insisted on an immediate invasion to follow
up the air strikes to prevent the Soviets from deploying all the missiles.
Kennedy did not support this idea, it was decided to confine himself to the sea
blockade. But according to international law, the blockade is an act of war,
while neither the deployment of missiles in Turkey nor the response – in Cuba
no agreements were violated.
And only Dean Rusk, the Secretary of State saw an
opportunity to persuade Castro to push the Soviets out, also the diplomatic
issue of this conflict suggested by UN ambassador Adlai Stevenson who would be
intended purely to freeze the situation and the Soviet missile installations
would be monitored by UN observation teams.
The role of
welcomed Fidel Castro’s regime and his revolution in 1959 overthrow of the
dictatorial general Fulgencio Batista, the nation’s American-backed president.
Castro almost as soon as came to power took steps to reduce American influence
which did not restrict by Batista on the island. The US public and government
were gravely concerned about the creation of a communist state and member of
Soviet Bloc only seventy miles from its southern shores. So, the
invasion of Cuba was a part of the scenario in a confrontation between the
Soviet Union and the United States during Cold War. Later John Kennedy agreed:
“Yes, we will give Cuba guarantees of immunity in exchange for the
withdrawal of your missiles.” Also, Robert Kennedy said that, regardless
of the crisis, the president wants to withdraw the Jupiter missiles. “This
weapon is commanded by NATO, and its bodies must all approve. Therefore, we ask
for confidentiality! Cuba supports terrorism in Latin America. If this ceases,
we will have no reason to intervene. ” A peaceful solution to the conflict
However, Castro did not
conceal his disappointment. Khrushchev insulted the Cuban leader, completely
without consulting him. The withdrawal of Soviet troops was very difficult.
First of all, Castro did not agree to accept the international inspection. In
1962, UN Secretary-General U Thant flew to Havana. At the airport, he was met
by Foreign Minister Raul Roa, and Castro continued to persist. Despite the fact
that the USSR demanded that Cubans allow Tana to visit the bases where the
dismantling was taking place, the UN Secretary-General was never allowed to go
there. Moscow was worried about the ongoing quarantine. Washington replied that
until all its requirements were fulfilled, the quarantine would be preserved.
He was removed only on November 20. The USSR tried to translate the
conversation into US-Cuban relations, asked for a written guarantee of Cuba’s
security, but the US president refused. Kennedy recalled that the Americans had
no way to double-check the Cuban territory. In an interview in the 1990s with
Castro, he said that had it come down to an invasion, Castro himself said that
he wouldn’t have waited, he would have launched the nuclear missiles at the US. ? Attempts by the CIA to kill Castro continued. For many
years, his personal guard, Fabian Escalante, estimated that by the beginning of
2006, 638 attempts had been committed.
During the crisis, a detachment of
four submarines, armed with torpedoes with nuclear warheads, capable of
destroying the American fleet, was stationed off the coast of Cuba.
American warships and aviation patrolled the
Atlantic Ocean area off the Cuban coasts to discover the submarines of a likely
enemy. Soviet submarines were forced to go deep under the water. To force them
to rise to the surface, the Americans began to throw explosive cartridges into
the water, which was informed to Moscow. But they did not know that Moscow at
that time had no connection with its submarines. And they did not know that
there were nuclear weapons on their board.
Soviet sailors drew information about what was
happening in the world, based only on what they could observe themselves. And
they saw that they were “encircled” by the American fleet, that they
were fired upon each surfacing to the surface and bombarded with explosive
ammunition at each dive …
In extreme cases, the commander of each
submarine could give an order for the use of nuclear weapons by Soviet
submarines without the agreement with the center. For this, it was necessary to
have an agreed decision of three people. On the submarine B-59 these people
were the commander of the boat Valentin Savitsky, the deputy commander for
political affairs Ivan Maslennikov and the chief of staff of the brigade PL,
the captain of the II rank Vasily Arkhipov.
Moscow for 2 weeks did not contact the
commanders of submarines, so as not to lead the American ships on their trail,
so they knew nothing about how the Caribbean crisis is developing. Commander
B-59 decided to launch a torpedo with a nuclear warhead, knowing full well that
this meant death for him and his entire team: “We’ll blow them up, we’ll
all perish, but we’ll sink all their ships.” However, Vasily Arkhipov, as
a senior officer aboard the boat, showed remarkable restraint and composure,
did not allow him to do it. The wise K-19 experience, which crashed in the
summer of 1961, knew what a nuclear warhead. Then on the K-19
Soviet sailors were killed trying to fix the nuclear reactor, and Vasily
himself received a strong dose of radiation.
And at this terrible moment Vasily Arkhipov,
not knowing that he was saving the whole world, took advantage of the right of
his “veto” and forbade the launch of a nuclear missile. On October
29, 1962, the submarine B-59 surfaced under the sights of the US
multi-hundredth armed forces. To the surprise of the sailors, no one entered
the boat, and they were sent to go home. The Caribbean crisis was settled.
Arkhipov, who retired in the rank of Vice Admiral, passed away in 1999. For
many years the details of the campaign of Soviet submarines to the US shores
were kept secret. This case was told only in 2002, during a conference in
Havana, dedicated to the 40th anniversary of the Caribbean crisis. Former US
Secretary of Defense McNamara, based on declassified US documents, acknowledged
that the onset of a nuclear war was much closer than many had expected. Thomas
Blanton, director of the National Security Archive, explained what McNamara had
in mind: “A man named Vasily Arkhipov saved the world on Earth.”3
Lessons from the Caribbean crisis for the modern world
In the book “The war in Syria and its
consequences for the Middle East, the Caucasus and Central Asia. Russian view
“made a parallel between the two operations of the General Staff: during
the period of the Caribbean crisis and during the dispatch in 2015 of military
equipment and personnel of the Russian Aerospace Forces to Syria. In both
cases, a scheme was used to covertly deploy a contingent of military personnel.
In 1962, she took four months, this time – three. Here we see the direct impact
of lessons learned from the Caribbean crisis. NATO and the United States were
very surprised when Israeli intelligence found a Russian military presence in
Syria. The second unexpected moment was the testing of Russian military
hardware by missile weapons. Americans were shocked when a Russian cruise
missile flew from the Caspian Sea. And another – when in the Mediterranean Sea
was a Russian submarine. Thus, Russia has shown that it has the capacity to
oppose the US military machine. But how real is the threat of a
military confrontation today? Political scientists note with regret that it is
much more real than at any time since the mid-1980s, although less possible
than in the hottest days of the Caribbean crisis. This threat requires finding
optimal solutions, without political costs for each side.
The September proposal of the Russian President
to begin, at last, to implement in practice, and not in words the Minsk
process. Introduce UN peacekeeping forces into the corridor between the Donbas
and the rest of Ukraine and implement the first two points of the Minsk
agreements – ceasefire and withdrawal of military equipment. And then all the
other items. Such a compromise is not a retreat by either side. This is a
reasonable way to begin to unwind this coil of contradictions.
Another problematic point is Syria. The Russian
Government is constantly receiving peaceful initiatives aimed at resolving the
situation. For example, to agree that the departure of Bashar Assad is not a
prerequisite for the restoration of peace. The Kremlin believes that this issue
should be resolved in the course of the peace process in Syria. Until then, it
is necessary to coordinate the fighting of both coalitions acting against the Islamic
State, a coalition led by the United States and the coalition of Syria, Russia,
Iran, and Iraq.
Another problem is North Korea. The Trump
administration expressed dissatisfaction with the fact that Russia was
increasing trade with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This is also
putting the US policy on putting pressure on Pyongyang, which is carrying out
its nuclear missile program, under attack.
Russia offers a path of diplomacy, which is
justified and represents a path of step-by-step steps. At the first stage – to
agree with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on the moratorium on
nuclear testing, and on the other – to ease part of the sanctions. Then – a
moratorium on the testing of long-range ballistic missiles. And an additional
lifting of sanctions.
After the analysis of the Cuban
Missile Crisis, I came to a conclusion that it continues to be relevant today.
As an example, Iran’s long- running quest for a nuclear weapon represents to
the United States a ‘Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion’. At one moment the
Americans will be forced, ultimately, to make a choice between attacking Iran
as Iraq in 2004 and accommodating a new nuclear state.
However, it is important to mention
that I decided to express my personal opinion. Based on the first presidential
debate the United States the President Donald Trump wanted to shoot an Iranian
ship just for making gestures at him. I suppose it wouldn’t be too far off for
him to nuke the Soviets just because they were dealing with Cuba
the Donald Trump confronts this and other policy challenges in regimes such as
Vladimir Putin’s Russia and Xi Jinping’s China over the coming years, these
formidable case study will become ever more valuable
G. The Cuban Missile Crisis. Foreign Policy:
Theories, Actors, Cases. 3rd edition. Smith, S., Hadfield,
A., Dunne, T. (eds.). Oxford
University Press, 2016. pp. 263.-290.
Editors of Encyclopedia Britannica (October 09, 2017), Cuban missile crisis
(Encyclopedia Britannica). Available on: