Robert Kennedy's back channel with the Russians | MSNBC
RealClearSports - John F. Kennedy - Nikita Khrushchev. In the year that followed, relations between the US and the USSR became more. Although John F. Kennedy had claimed that the U.S. lagged behind the Soviet Thus when Khrushchev proposed that the Soviet Union should install Affairs Llewellyn Thompson, Deputy Secretary of Defense Roswell Gilpatric, . Home · Chronological Eras · Information Tables · Maps · History Quizzes · Glossary · Blog . Kennedy planning for Cuban Missile Crisis Khrushchev wrote a personal letter to President Kennedy during the crisis asking that they come to an agreement in order to avoid war. Activities. Take a ten question quiz about this page.
They decided to work together and have the Soviet Union put nuclear missiles in Cuba that could strike most any portion of the USA. This was a crisis like never before.
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These missiles could reach any point of the United States with nuclear warheads causing mass destruction. President Kennedy called a meeting with his main security advisors. They considered a number of options from diplomacy to a full scale attack and invasion on Cuba. The Joint Chiefs of Staff voted to invade. They felt this was the only viable option. He opted to set up a naval blockade. Blockade Kennedy announced his plan on October 22, He showed the world the missile bases and said that the United States would be putting Cuba under "quarantine".
This meant that no offensive weapons would be allowed to enter Cuba. He also said that any attack on the US from Cuba would be considered an act of war from the Soviet Union. Over the next several days the crisis became more intense. The Soviet Union said they would not back down. By the 24th, Kennedy believed the US would have to invade Cuba. Negotiations Although the Soviet Union was publicly saying they would never back down, they were secretly negotiating with the United States.
Cuban Missile Crisis
Eventually the two sides reached an agreement. On August 29, a U-2 spy plane on reconnaissance over Cuba brought back evidence that surface-to-air SAM missiles had been installed at locations in Cuba.
Kennedywho was one of President Kennedy's closest advisors, that the installations were entirely defensive in nature. But in fact, MRBMs began to arrive 11 days later. Continued reports of Soviet missiles in Cuba prompted the decision to send another U-2 to take a closer look on October 9. Bad weather delayed the flight until October The photographic evidence was analyzed and in addition to the SAMs, six larger missiles, 60 to 65 feet in length, were identified.
It was clear to analysts on the 15th that those missiles were likely to have nuclear capability. Kennedy was informed of the situation during his breakfast on the 16th. That hand-picked group of 12 men would advise Kennedy throughout the unfolding crisis. Kennedy wanted to maintain complete secrecy. He did not want the Soviets to know how much he knew and he also didn't want to panic the American public.
So for the next four days, Kennedy maintained his announced schedule of public appearances. On the 17th, the president flew to Connecticut in support of Abraham Ribicoff's bid for a U.
On the same day, another U-2 flight revealed the existence of intermediate-range ballistic missiles IRBMs that would be able to strike nearly anywhere in the continental United States. The missiles were not directly brought into the discussions by either side. Gromyko again denied that the Soviet Union was doing anything in Cuba except assisting in that country's defense.
Kennedy re-read his statement from September 4, in which he had said that offensive weapons in Cuba would not be tolerated.
Berlin crisis of 1961
Kennedy agreed, but instructed his speechwriter, Theodore Sorenson, to prepare two speeches: One would announce the blockade and the other an invasion.
Kennedy continued to appear in public as though nothing were happening. On the 19th, he flew to the Midwest for a series of campaign appearances. The Joint Chiefs of Staff wanted to exercise the military option, but consensus couldn't be reached. On the following day, Robert told the president that he must return to Washington for a final decision. It was announced that he was suffering from an "upper respiratory infection," and flew back.JFK meets Khrushchev in Vienna and Prime Minister MacMillan in London 1961
Given the choice between limited action in the form of a blockade and military action that might become unstoppable, Kennedy favored the blockade. He would not make a final decision, however, until the 21st. On Sunday, October 21, Kennedy decided to address the nation the following day and tell them of his decision. He chose the word "quarantine" to describe his naval action rather than "blockade.
Responding to growing inquiries from the press, Kennedy requested that they publish nothing provocative in the delicate situation that prevailed. Beginning at 7 p. During his minute speech, he explained the evidence of the Soviet missile buildup, declared a quarantine against weapons deliveries to Cuba, and issued blunt warnings to the Soviet Union.
Not knowing how the Soviets would react, he had already placed American military forces on high alert. Missiles had been readied for launch within minutes and 20 SAC bombers were airborne, equipped with nuclear bombs. Khrushchev responded with a letter to Kennedy, denying again that the weapons were anything but defensive and warning the U. On the 23rd, reconnaissance flights by six Crusader jets, flying just feet above the ground, brought back pictures that showed missiles being tested for launch.
With the OAS endorsement in hand, the United States announced that the quarantine would begin on the 24th at 10 a. Robert Kennedy met privately with Ambassador Dobrynin and complained bitterly that Dobrynin had lied to him about the missiles.
Dobrynin stated that to the best of his knowledge, the missiles were entirely defensive. After the meeting, Dobrynin cabled Moscow with a report of the meeting. Lacking sophisticated communications, Dobrynin was obliged to use Western Unionwhich sent a messenger by bicycle to pick up the wire. Navy began to enforce the quarantine with 56 warships, including eight aircraft carriers, at 10 a.
While that averted an immediate confrontation, the missiles already in Cuba constituted an ongoing threat. SAC headquarters put its forces around the world on the highest level of alert ever. That evening, another letter from Khrushchev arrived, which described the American position as an ultimatum to which the Soviets would not submit.
On the 25th, Kennedy instructed U.