Cuban missile crisis
During the early 1960 the Soviet Union had stationed middle-range missiles in Cuba. This prompted the USA to assume that the Soviet Union had gained a strategic advantage in the East-West conflict and aimed to extend its influence on the West. As the missiles were aiming directly at the USA high alert arose in the US-general staff. After Cuba had become socialistic through Fidel Castro’sFidel Castro is a Cuban communist politician and revolutionary who served as Prime Minister of Cuba. Under his administration the Republic of Cuba became a one-party socialist state revolution the state established diplomatic ties with the Soviet Union. The USA on the other hand terminated all prior relations with Cuba. However one has to bear in mind that the USA had several nuclear missiles directed at the Soviet Union stationed in Turkey at the time.
John F. Kennedy, the American president elected in 1961 tried to remove the missiles from Cuba to ensure America’s safety. However the USA failed in their plan to invade the Cuban Bay of PigsThe Bay of Pigs Invasion was a failed military invasion of Cuba undertaken by a CIA-sponsored paramilitary group in 1961 with the help of exiled Cubans. All secret operations attempted failed. On a crisis meeting with the Soviet general secretary Nikita KhrushchevNikita Khrushchev served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964 no common solution could be found. Chruschtschow merenly advocated the concept of peaceful coexistencePeaceful coexistence was a theory by the Soviet Union that they could peacefully coexist with the capitalist bloc, according to which his country needed to be extensively armed to discourage the USA from beginning a war1.
Course of the war
As the American government was aware of the fact that invading Cuba would have prompted the Soviet Government to invade West Berlin direct military action was avoided. Instead Kennedy reacted quite skillfully: He installed a naval blockade, which prohibited all Soviet ships from reaching Cuba and thus stopped the delivery of weapons from the Soviet Union.
Nikita Khrushchev was thereby forced to make a decision; the world was inches from a nuclear world war. As the Soviet Union eventually consented to withdraw their missiles from Cuba the USA dismantled the missiles directed at the Soviet Union. Moreover Kennedy assured that Cuba would no longer be militarily burdened.
Due to the lack of victory in Cuba the Soviet Union felt obliged to increase the military armament. In the late 1960 the Soviet Union therefore reached a military balance with the USA.
The Cuban missile crisis is undoubtedly considered the summit of the East-West conflict as one shot could have caused a third world war.
In order to avert the threat of a nuclear war in the future the two super powers established the “Moscow-Washington hotlineMoscow–Washington hotline is a system that allows direct communication between the leaders of the United States and Russia. It was established in 1963” to simplify diplomatic interaction between the two states, as both sides were now aware of the threat nuclear weapons posed to the whole world2.