Cuban Missile Crisis

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The Cuban Missile Crisis was a span of thirteen days in October 1962, when humanity was closer to the start of World War III. than ever before or after. Nuclear war was only a push of a button away from destroying the world. Besides, it is a symbol of the tension and games of the Cold War. It was another period of tension between the USA and the USSR after the 1961 Berlin Crisis.

In 1960, the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev made a deal with Fidel Castro’s Cuba to protect them. Fast forward to October 1962, US spy plane U-2 photographed the Soviets building bases for nuclear missiles on Cuba. Thus, creating a direct threat to US territory. On October 16th, the CIA notified the president, John F. Kennedy.

Kennedy was aware that the situation could escalate into a worldwide conflict. Hence, he had to decide carefully. After weighing all options, he decided to start a blockade, thus, stopping the Soviets from any further shipments to Cuba.

Cuban Missile Crisis
US President John F. Kennedy and Soviet minister of foreign affairs Andrei Gromyko

Escalation of the Crisis

Two days after starting the blockade, on October 22nd, the president informed the public about the Cuban missile crisis. Besides, he put the army on alert. Two important events occurred two days later.

First, Khrushchev called the blockade an “act of aggression.” He also argued that the US had its missiles in Turkey. Besides, a group of Soviet ships was on course on Cuba. They stopped only a short distance from American ships, which were enforcing the blockade. If the Soviet ships had breached past the Americans, a war would be imminent. 

While it was clear that the Soviets would not breach the blockade, the missiles located in Cuba already were still a threat. Hence, the tension was still tangible. Besides, on October 27th, a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Cuba. On the same day, Khrushchev offered a deal. Soviets would back from Cuba if Americans backed from Turkey.

Only a day later, the Soviets capitulated and halted the works on the missile base. They shipped the nuclear missiles back. In return, Kennedy promised that the US would never invade Cuba. Besides, the two countries established a hotline between Washington and Moscow in 1963.