Tag Archives: Cold War

Yugoslavia Dissolves

Yugoslavia Dissolves

The dissolution of Yugoslavia ran parallel with the dissolution of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and the accompanying freeing of eastern European countries that had come to be known as Soviet satellites.

I separate the two events because the dissolution of Yugoslavia, also a Soviet satellite, because Yugoslavia’s story became a tragic one and one whose story continued well past USSR’s December 26, 1991 official end.

Yugoslavia Dissolves

Kingdom of Yugoslavia

Yugoslavia Dissolves
Coat of Arms of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia

October 3, 1929: The Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes changed its name to the Kingdom of Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia Dissolves

Socialist Republic

Yugoslavia Dissolves

January 31, 1946: the Constitution of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia was adopted, creating six internal republics: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia [with Kosovo and Vojvodina autonomous provinces within it], and Slovenia. Belgrade was the capital.

The constitution, modeled on that of the Soviet Union, would serve at the supreme law of Yugoslavia throughout the Cold War.

Josip Broz Tito is the Communist leader most associated with Yugoslavia and despite the common political views with the USSR, Tito and Josef Stalin were not on the best of terms. In fact, in post-World War II, Stalin warned,  ‘I will shake my little finger and there will be no more Tito.” Stalin even attempted to assassinate Tito, but failed.

Tito’s classic response to the assassination attempts was: Stop sending people to kill me. We’ve already captured five of them, one of them with a bomb and another with a rifle. […] If you don’t stop sending killers, I’ll send one to Moscow, and I won’t have to send a second.

President for life

April 7, 1963, the nation changed its official name to Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Tito was named President for life.

Tito died in 1980 and following his death, ethnic tensions within Yugoslavia grew.

Yugoslavia Dissolves

Collapse begins

Slovenia

December 23, 1990: in a referendum on Slovenia’s independence from Yugoslavia, 88.5% vote in favor of independence.

Croatia and Slovenia

June 25, 1991: Croatia and Slovenia declared their independence from Yugoslavia.

Republic of Macedonia

September 8, 1991: the Republic of Macedonia becomes independent. Because of a dispute with Greece over the name, In June 2018, Macedonia and Greece agreed that the country should rename itself Republic of North Macedonia. This renaming came into effect in February 2019.

Croatia

October 8, 1991: Croatia independent from Yugoslavia.

Yugoslavia Dissolves

UN oversight

November 2, 1991: The UN Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution opening the way to the establishment of peacekeeping operations in Yugoslavia.

Republika Srpska

January 9, 1992: the Assembly of the Serb People in Bosnia and Herzegovina proclaimed the creation of a new state within Yugoslavia, the Republika Srpska.

Collapse recognized

January 15, 1992: the Yugoslav federation effectively collapsed as the European Community recognized the republics of Croatia and Slovenia.

Bosnia and Herzegovina

March 1, 1992: Bosnia and Herzegovina independent from Yugoslavia.

Serbia and Montenegro

April 28, 1992: the two remaining constituent republics of the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – Serbia and Montenegro – form a new state, named the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia=–after 2003, Serbia and Montenegro), bringing to an end the official union of Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Montenegrins, Bosnian Muslims, and Macedonians that existed from 1918 (with the exception of the period during World War II).

Yugoslavia Dissolves

War

Operation Deny Flight

February 28, 1994: US F-16s shot down 4 Serbian J-21s over Bosnia and Herzegovina for violation of the Operation Deny Flight and its no-fly zone.

August 4, 1994: Serb-dominated Yugoslavia withdrew its support for Bosnian Serbs, sealing the 300-mile border between Yugoslavia and Serb-held Bosnia.

Pogrom

Yugoslavia Dissolves

July 11 – 22, 1995: Bosnian Serbs marched into Srebrenica while UN Dutch peacekeepers leave. More than 8,300 Bosniak men and boys are killed in the Srebrenica massacre.

Dayton Accords

November 21, 1995: leaders of Croatia, Bosnia and Serbia agreed to the Dayton Accords ending nearly four years of terror and ethnic bloodletting that had left a quarter of a million people dead in the worst war in Europe since World War II. The Accords were formally signed in Paris, France on December 14.

December 14, 1995: the Dayton Agreement signed in Paris; established a general framework for ending the Bosnian War between Bosnia and Herzegovina.

December 20, 1995: NATO begins peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.

March 24, 1998: NATO launched air strikes against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, which refused to sign a peace treaty. This marked the first time NATO attacked a sovereign country.

Yugoslavia Dissolves

War Crimes

May 27, 1999: in The Hague, Netherlands, a war crimes tribunal indicted Slobodan Milosevic and four others for atrocities in Kosovo. It was the first time that a sitting head of state had been charged with such a crime.

June 3, 1999: Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic accepted a peace plan for Kosovo designed to end mass expulsions of ethnic Albanians and 11 weeks of NATO airstrikes.

June 9, 1999: the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, signed the Kumanovo Treaty, ending the Kosovo War. The agreement also opened the way for the establishment of international security forces to maintain order in Kosovo and a UN protectorate over the region. The parliament of Kosovo subsequently declared independence in 2008.

June 10, 1999: Yugoslav troops begin leaving Kosovo, prompting NATO to suspend its punishing 78-day air war.

June 12, 1999: NATO peacekeeping forces entered the province of Kosovo in Yugoslavia.

June 20, 1999: as the last of 40,000 Yugoslav troops left Kosovo, NATO declared a formal end to its bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

February 23, 2001: a U.N. war crimes tribunal convicted three Bosnian Serbs on charges of rape and torture in the first case of wartime sexual enslavement to go before an international court.

Dragoljub Kunarac, 40, a former commander of the Bosnian Serb army, was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment. Dragoljub will face additional charges in 2019

Radomir Kovac, 39, a former paramilitary commander, was sentenced to 20 years. Zoran Vukovic, 39, also a former paramilitary commander, was given 12 years for rape and torture.

Slobodan Milosevic

June 28, 2001: former Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic was handed over by Serbia to the U.N. war crimes tribunal.

February 12, 2002: the trial of Milosevic–the ‘butcher of the Balkans–began at The Hague. Milošević defended himself.

March 12, 2006: Milošević died before the trial could be concluded; he was therefore never found guilty of the charges brought against him.

Yugoslavia Dissolves

More independence

Montenegro

Yugoslavia Dissolves

May 20, 2006: Montenegro independent from Serbia.

Republic of Kosovo

Yugoslavia Dissolves

February 17, 2008: Republic of Kosovo independent from Serbia (partially recognized; not a member of the United Nations).

Yugoslavia Dissolves

Crimes against humanity

Radovan Karadzic

March 24, 2016: Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, was convicted of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity by a United Nations tribunal on Thursday for leading a campaign of terror against civilians in the deadliest conflict in Europe since World War II.

Karadzic, 70, was sentenced to 40 years in prison for his role in lethal ethnic cleansing operations, the siege of Sarajevo and the slaughter of 8,000 Muslim men and boys in Srebrenica in 1995, in proceedings that were likened to the Nuremberg trials of former Nazi leaders.

Gen. Ratko Mladic

November 21, 2017: General Ratko Mladic, the former Bosnian Serb commander, was convicted of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. He was sentenced to life in prison.

The tribunal found that Mladic, 75, was the chief military organizer from 1992 to 1995 of the campaign to drive Muslims, Croats and other non-Serbs off their lands to cleave a new homogeneous statelet for Bosnian Serbs.

The deadliest year of the campaign was 1992, when 45,000 people died, often in their homes, on the streets or in a string of concentration camps. Others perished in the siege of Sarajevo, the Bosnian capital, where snipers and shelling terrorized residents for more than three years, and in the mass executions of 8,000 Muslim men and boys after Mladic’s forces overran the United Nations-protected enclave of Srebrenica.

Radovan Karadzic life

United Nations court increased the sentence of Radovan Karadzic, the former Bosnian Serb leader, from 40 years to life in prison for his role in the Bosnian war of the 1990s, reaffirming his 2016 conviction on charges of genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Both the prosecution and the defense had appealed the 2016 result of Karadzic’s trial before the United Nations Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, in The Hague. Karadzic, who largely acted as his own lawyer in court, had asked to be acquitted of all charges.

The prosecution sought an increase in his sentence — a largely symbolic move, because Karadzic, 70 at the time of the verdict, was unlikely to live long enough to serve out his lengthy sentence. But symbolic or not, the court’s decision to raise the penalty drew cheers and applause from Bosnians watching in the gallery.

Yugoslavia Dissolves
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USSR Dissolves

USSR Dissolves

Long live our Soviet motherland,
Built by the people’s mighty hand.
Long live our people, united and free.
Strong in our friendship tried by fire.
Long may our crimson flag inspire,
Shining in glory for all men to see.

The Red Menace

As Baby Boomers there was no greater enemy than the Soviet Union.   We stockpiled atomic weapons for the war that was sure to come. We put those weapons on top of rockets, in land bunkers, aboard submarines, ships, huge flying bombers, and secret places.

If a Boomer were a Catholic, then they prayed for the conversion of “Russia”  (easier than saying the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) at the end of every Sunday mass.

If we wanted to label something an enemy, we said the person was a Communist, a Red, a -nik.

We had to keep Communism contained despite its spread into so many countries: eastern Europe, Cuba, central America, Africa, South America, and Asia.

We sent thousands of our soldiers to Korea to stop the spread of Communism. We sent thousands of our troops to Vietnam to stop the spread of Communism. Our military budget, the largest of any nation anywhere, was predicated on stopping Communism.

USSR Dissolves

Birth of a Nation

On December 30, 1922 in post-revolutionary Russia, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) is established, comprising a confederation of Russia, Belorussia, Ukraine, and the Transcaucasian Federation (divided in 1936 into the Georgian, Azerbaijan, and Armenian republics). Also known as the Soviet Union, the new communist state was the successor to the Russian Empire and the first country in the world to be based on Marxist socialism.

The USSR eventually consisted of: Russia, Ukraine, Byleorussia, Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Lithuania, Latvia,  Estonia, Moldovia, Kazakhstan, Kirghizia, Uzbekistan, Turmenia, and Tajikistan.

USSR Dissolves

Dissolution of a Nation

When it happened, it happened, ironically,  like the dominoes we had fought so hard to stop from happening.

The economics, the politics, the many pieces that led to the dissolution of the USSR are more than this blog can cover. Dates are easier to list.

These dates include the withdrawal of the Soviet Union from the countries of eastern Europe. Countries that while not officially part of the USSR, were satellites of the vast Union.

USSR Dissolves

Leaks in the dam

September 11, 1988: 300,000 demonstrate for independence in Estonia.

August 23, 1989: two million indigenous people of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania joined hands to demand freedom and independence, forming an uninterrupted 600 km human chain called the Baltic Way.

August 23, 1989: Hungary (a Soviet satellite) removed border restrictions with Austria (a free European country)

September 10, 1989: thousands of East Germans cross the Austria-Hungary frontier after Budapest waived border restrictions amid the largest legal exodus from eastern Europe since 1945.

USSR Dissolves

Satellites waiver

The Wall Falls

November 9, 1989: the fall of the Berlin Wall. East Germany’s communist government allowed all citizens direct passage to the west, rendering the Berlin Wall obsolete.

Czechoslovakia

November 17, 1989: riot police put down student protests against the communist government in Czechoslovakia. The incident started a series of non-violent protests that finally forced the communists from power two weeks later.

November 29, 1989: in response to a growing pro-democracy movement in Czechoslovakia, the Communist-run parliament ended the party’s 40-year monopoly on power.

Romania

December 15, 1989: a popular uprising began in Romania.

December 17, 1989: Timișoara Riot in Romania. Demonstrations in the city of Timișoara were triggered by the government-sponsored attempt to evict László Tőkés, an ethnic Hungarian pastor, accused by the government of inciting ethnic hatred. Members of his ethnic Hungarian congregation surrounded his apartment in a show of support. Romanian students spontaneously joined the demonstration which had became a more general anti-government demonstration. Regular military forces, police and Security fired on demonstrators killing and injuring men, women and children.

December 19, 1989: workers in Romanian cities go on strike in protest against the communist regime.

December 21, 1989: Romanian leader, Nicolae Ceaușescu, spoke to crowd of the Socialist revolution’s chievements and Romanian “multi-laterally developed Socialist society.” Roughly eight minutes into his speech, several people began jeering, booing and whistling at him and shouting “Timișoara,” a reaction that would have been unthinkable for most of the previous quarter-century of his rule. As the speech wore on, more and more people did the same. He tried to silence them by raising his right hand and calling for the crowd’s attention before order was temporarily restored, then proceeded to announce social benefit reforms. The crowd continued to boo and heckle him.

December 22, 1989: the Romanian army defected to the cause of anti-communist demonstrators, and the government of Nicolae Ceausescu was overthrown. Ceaușescu and his wife Elena flee.

Berlin

December 22, 1989: Berlin’s Brandenburg gate is reopened.

USSR Dissolves

Ceaușescus executed

December 25, 1989: near Târgoviște, Romania the  Ceaușescus were court-martialled on orders of the National Salvation Front, Romania’s provisional government. They faced charges including illegal gathering of wealth and genocide. Ceaușescu repeatedly denied the court’s authority to try him, and asserted he was still legally president of Romania.

At the end of the quick trial the Ceaușescus were found guilty and sentenced to death. A soldier standing guard in the proceedings was ordered to take the Ceaușescus out back one by one and shoot them, but the Ceaușescus demanded to die together. The soldiers agreed to this and began to tie their hands behind their back which the Ceaușescus protested against but were powerless to prevent.

The Ceaușescus were executed by three of soldiers though reportedly hundreds of others also volunteered. The firing squad began shooting as soon as the two were in position against a wall. Before his sentence was carried out, Nicolae Ceaușescu sang “The Internationale” while being led up against the wall.

USSR Dissolves

Republics waiver

Lithuania

January 11, 1990: in Lithuania, 300,000 demonstrated for independence.

Armenia and Azerbaijan

January 16, 1990:  in the wake of vicious fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in Azerbaijan, the Soviet government sends in 11,000 troops to quell the conflict.

The fighting–and the official Soviet reaction to it–was an indication of the increasing ineffectiveness of the central Soviet government in maintaining control in the Soviet republics, and of Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s weakening political power.

Political power outage

February 7, 1990: the Central Committee of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party agreed to endorse President Mikhail Gorbachev’s recommendation that the party give up its 70-year long monopoly of political power. The Committee’s decision to allow political challenges to the party’s dominance in Russia was yet another signal of the impending collapse of the Soviet system.

Lithuania

March 15, 1990:  the Soviet Union announced that Lithuania’s declaration of independence was invalid.

May 4, 1990: Latvia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

One Germany

October 3, 1990: Germany reunited.

USSR Dissolves

August 1991 dominoes

Georgia

April 9, 1991: the Supreme Council of the Republic of Georgia declared independence from the Soviet Union.

Estonia

August 20, 1991:  Estonia declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Lativa

August 21, 1991:  Latvia declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Ukraine

August 24, 1991:  Ukraine declared independence from Soviet Union.

Belarus

August 25, 1991:  Belarus declares independence from Soviet Union.

Moldova

August 27, 1991:  Moldova declares independence from the Soviet Union.

Communist Party suspended

August 29, 1991: after three hours of anguished debate, the Soviet Parliament voted to suspend all activities of the Communist Party pending an investigation of its role in the coup. It was an action that confirmed the demise of the old regime even as the search quickened for new forms of association and order. The fate of the party was already sealed before Parliament’s vote. Individual republics had closed its offices and seized its vast properties and funds and President Mikhail S. Gorbachev had quit as its General Secretary and had called on the leadership to step down. But Parliament was the only national institution with the formal powers to act against the entire organization, and its decision served to confirm the indictment already passed by the people. [NYT article]

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan

August 30, 1991:  Azerbaijan declared independence from Soviet Union.

Kyrgystan & Uzbeckistan
Uzbeckistan
Kyrgystan

 

 

 

 

 

 

August 31, 1991:  Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan declare independence from the Soviet Union.

USSR Dissolves

Final pieces fall

Tajikistan

September 9, 1991: Tajikistan declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Armenia

USSR Dissolves

September 21, 1991:  Armenia declares independence from the Soviet Union.

Turkmenistan

USSR Dissolves

October 27, 1991: Turkmenistan declares its independence from the Soviet Union.

Kasakhstan

USSR Dissolves

December 16, 1991: Kazakhstan declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

Russia

USSR Dissolves

December 12, 1991: Russia independent

USSR Dissolves

The The End

USSR Dissolves

December 24, 1991: Mikhail Gorbachev resigned as head of Soviet Union.

December 26, 1991: the official dissolution of the USSR.

USSR Dissolves

Treaty of Accession

April 16, 2003: 10 countries signed  the 2003 Treaty of Accession admitting them to the European Union (EU). After Malta and Cyprus, eight of the ten new EU nations (Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania) were former communist countries. The signing of the treaty in Athens marked the first time that former members of the Soviet Bloc joined the EU.

USSR Dissolves
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October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

We know that nothing historic happens by itself. We just forget.

Boomers remember the Cuban missile crisis  as an  October 1962 event, an event that grew from a simple announcement to the shuddering fear of nuclear apocalypse.

What follows is a chronologically simplified list of the various events that preceded the crisis, the crisis itself, and its aftermath.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Bay of Pigs & aftermath

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

April 24, 1961: President Kennedy accepted “sole responsibility” following the failed Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba and in November he authorized an aggressive covert operations (code name Operation Mongoose) against Fidel Castro. Air Force General Edward Lansdale led the operation.

Operation Mongoose’s goal was to remove the communists from power to “help Cuba overthrow the Communist regime,” including its leader Fidel Castro. It aimed “for a revolt which can take place in Cuba by October 1962”. US policy makers also wanted to see “a new government with which the United States can live in peace”.  [PBS story re Mongoose]

February 3, 1962: President Kennedy banned all trade with Cuba. 

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

US missiles in Turkey

Deployed in 1959, in April 1962, U.S. Jupiter missiles in Turkey became operational. US personnel reported all positions “ready and manned.” 

USSR missiles in Cuba

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

May 30, 1962: Fidel Castro informed visiting Soviet officials that Cuba would accept the deployment of nuclear weapons.

August 17, 1962: US Central Intelligence Agency Director John McCone stated at a high-level meeting that circumstantial evidence suggested that the Soviet Union was constructing offensive missile installations in Cuba. Dean Rusk and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara disagreed with McCone, arguing that the build-up was purely defensive.

Twelve days later, on August 29, a high-altitude U-2 surveillance flight provided conclusive evidence of the existence of missile sites at eight different locations in Cuba.

September 18, 1962: the Soviet Union conducted an above ground nuclear test of 1.5 – 10 megatons. [NYT article]

September 19, 1962:  the United States Intelligence Board (USIB) approved a report on the Soviet arms buildup in Cuba. Its assessment, stated that some intelligence indicates the ongoing deployment of nuclear missiles to Cuba.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuba at the UN

October 7, 1962: Cuban President Osvaldo Dorticós spoke at the UN General Assembly: “If … we are attacked, we will defend ourselves. I repeat, we have sufficient means with which to defend ourselves; we have indeed our inevitable weapons, the weapons, which we would have preferred not to acquire, and which we do not wish to employ.”

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 14, 1962: a US Air Force U-2 plane on a photo-reconnaissance mission captured proof of Soviet missile bases under construction in Cuba. Four days later, on October 18, President Kennedy met with Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs, Andrei Gromyko, who claimed the weapons were for defensive purposes only. Not wanting to expose what he already knew, and wanting to avoid panicking the American public, Kennedy did not reveal that he was already aware of the missile build-up.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Public announcement

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 22, 1962: President Kennedy announced the existence of Soviet missiles in Cuba and ordered a naval blockade. The Joint Chiefs of Staff unanimously agreed that a full-scale attack and invasion was the only solution.

October 23, 1962: evidence presented by the U.S. Department of Defense of Soviet missiles in Cuba. This low level photo of the medium range ballistic missile site under construction at Cuba’s San Cristobal area. A line of oxidizer trailers is at center.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Added since October 14, were fuel trailers, a missile shelter tent, and equipment. The missile erector now lies under canvas cover. Evident also is extensive vehicle trackage and the construction of cable lines to control areas

October 24, 1962: the Soviet news agency Telegrafnoe Agentstvo Sovetskogo Soyuza (TASS) broadcast a telegram from Nikita Khrushchev to President Kennedy, in which Khrushchev warned that the United States’ “pirate action” would lead to war. President John F. Kennedy spoke before reporters during a televised speech to the nation about the strategic blockade of Cuba, and his warning to the Soviet Union about missile sanctions.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 25, 1962

The Chinese People’s Daily announced that “650,000,000 Chinese men and women were standing by the Cuban people”. 

At the United Nations, ambassador Adlai Stevenson confronted Soviet Ambassador Valerian Zorin in an emergency meeting challenging him to admit the existence of the missiles.

The Soviets responded to the blockade by turning back 14 ships presumably carrying offensive weapons.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

UN confrontation

October 26, 1962: in one of the most dramatic verbal confrontations of the Cold War, American U.N. Ambassador Adlai Stevenson asked his Soviet counterpart during a Security Council debate whether the USSR had placed missiles in Cuba. Meanwhile, B-52 bombers were dispersed to various locations and made ready to take off, fully equipped. 

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Rudolf Anderson shot down

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 27, 1962: Radio Moscow began broadcasting a message from Khrushchev. The message offered a new trade, that the missiles on Cuba would be removed in exchange for the removal of the Jupiter missiles from Italy and Turkey.  Cuba shot down a US U2 plane with surface to air missile killing the pilot, Rudolf Anderson. U.S. Army anti-aircraft rockets sat, mounted on launchers and pointed out over the Florida Straits in Key West, Florida.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Detente

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

October 28, 1962: after much deliberation between the Soviet Union and Kennedy’s cabinet, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles set in southern Italy and in Turkey, the latter on the border of the Soviet Union, in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba. Nikita Khrushchev announced that he had ordered the removal of Soviet missile bases in Cuba.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

November 6, 1962: Rudolph Anderson’s body interred in Greenville, South Carolina at Woodlawn Memorial Park.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Hot line

June 20, 1963: to lessen the threat of an accidental nuclear war, the US and the Soviet Union agreed to establish a “hot line” communication system between the two nations. 

August 30, 1963: the “Hot Line” communications link between the White House, Washington D.C. and the Kremlin, Moscow, went into operation to provide a direct two-way communications channel between the American and Soviet governments in the event of an international crisis. 

It consisted of one full-time duplex wire telegraph circuit, routed Washington- London- Copenhagen- Stockholm- Helsinki- Moscow, used for the transmission of messages and one full-time duplex radiotelegraph circuit, routed Washington- Tangier- Moscow used for service communications and for coordination of operations between the two terminal points. Note, this was not a telephone voice link.

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Nuclear test ban

October 7, 1963: President John F. Kennedy signed the documents of ratification for a nuclear test ban treaty with Britain and the Soviet Union. [NYT article]

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis

Cuban/US relations

Castro was furious that Khrushchev had not consulted him before making his bargain with Kennedy to end the crisis — and furious as well that U.S. covert action against him had not ceased. In September 1963, Castro appeared at a Brazilian Embassy reception in Havana and warned, “American leaders should know that if they are aiding terrorist plans to eliminate Cuban leaders, then they themselves will not be safe.”

November 18, 1963: at the Americana Hotel in Miami President John F. Kennedy told the Inter-American Press Association that only one issue separated the United States from Fidel Castro’s Cuba: Castro’s “conspirators” had handed Cuban sovereignty to “forces beyond the hemisphere” (meaning the Soviet Union), which were using Cuba “to subvert the other American republics.” Kennedy said, “As long as this is true, nothing is possible. Without it, everything is possible.”

That same day, Ambassador William Attwood, a Kennedy delegate to the United Nations, secretly called Castro’s aide and physician, Rene Vallejo, to discuss a possible secret meeting in Havana between Attwood and Castro that might improve the Cuban-American relationship. Attwood had been told by Castro’s U.N. ambassador, Carlos Lechuga, in September 1963, that the Cuban leader wished to establish back-channel communications with Washington.

Kennedy’s national security adviser, McGeorge Bundy, told Attwood that J.F.K. wanted to “know more about what is on Castro’s mind before committing ourselves to further talks on Cuba.” He said that as soon as Attwood and Lechuga could agree on an agenda, the president would tell him what to say to Castro. 

November 19, 1963: Kennedy had settled the Cuban crisis, in part, by pledging that the US would not invade Cuba; however that pledge was conditioned on the presumption that Castro would stop trying to encourage other revolutions like his own throughout Latin America.

Tuesday 19 November 1963: the evening before President Kennedy’s final full day at the White House — the C.I.A.’s covert action chief, Richard Helms, brought J.F.K. what he termed “hard evidence” that Castro was still trying to foment revolution throughout Latin America.

Helms (who later served as C.I.A. director from 1966 to 1973) and an aide, Hershel Peake, told Kennedy about their agency’s discovery: a three-ton arms cache left by Cuban terrorists on a beach in Venezuela, along with blueprints for a plan to seize control of that country by stopping Venezuelan elections scheduled for 12 days hence.

Standing in the Cabinet Room near windows overlooking the darkened Rose Garden, Helms brandished what he called a “vicious-looking” rifle and told the president how its identifying Cuban seal had been sanded off.

Elie Abel wrote The Missile Crisis in 1966. In it Kennedy is quoted as saying after the crisis: “Any historian who walks through this minefield of charges and countercharges.”

October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
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