В stories The Caribbean crisis that broke out in the autumn of 1962, a string of truthful, sometimes contradictory, and sometimes dubious facts, reflecting the realities of that alarming time. Remains little-known and closed pages.
In the 1992 year in Havana at the trilateral conference with the participation of scientists and politicians from the United States, Russia and Cuba, Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense during the presidency of John F. Kennedy, for the first time acknowledged that the world was really two steps away from a planetary nuclear war.
What made the former Pentagon boss make such a conclusion? Obviously, the statement of the conference participant, Army General Anatoly Gribkov, who was 1962 in October, was at the height of the events in Cuba. He said that then, in addition to Soviet medium-range missiles, operational-tactical nuclear shells were also brought to the Island of Freedom. They were supposed to be used in the event of an American invasion of Cuban territory. The commanders were given the "good" to combat the use of projectiles in repelling aggression, as one of the American participants at the conference argued.
"So, the nuclear disaster was two steps away from us," admitted McNamara. He had no doubt that if the US troops had been subjected to such shelling, John Kennedy would have issued an order to launch an atomic strike on Cuba and, possibly, on the Soviet Union.
What did Khrushchev proceed from when he made an unprecedented military-political decision to deploy operational-tactical missiles, as well as, as it became known later, nuclear shells on Cuban territory? He was absolutely sure that after the defeat of the American mercenaries on Playa Chiron (April 1961 of the year), the United States would launch an invasion of Cuba on its own.
Andrei Gromyko (https://www.vpk-news.ru/articles/35219), who had been at the helm of Soviet foreign policy for many years, testified that during Khrushchev’s return from Bulgaria (29 in May 1962), the Soviet leader in conversation with the eye He told me in an airplane: “To save Cuba as an independent state, it is necessary to place there some of our nuclear missiles there. Washington will not stop last year’s failure to invade Playa Chiron. ”
There is evidence of the first Soviet ambassador to Cuba, Alexander Alekseev. On the eve of the Caribbean crisis, Khrushchev informed him that Moscow had reliable data about the invasion of American troops on Liberty Island.
“Moscow needs to know everything”
But one thing is to declare that there is reliable data on the planned US attack on Cuba, the other is to present them. Of course, for obvious reasons, Khrushchev did not disclose all the cards, and until recently the general public did not know anything about these plans.
What does it mean for the fact that regardless of the fact of the deployment of Soviet missiles in Cuba, the US was preparing an invasion?
1 March 1993, the Boston Globe newspaper, has previously published the secret report of Admiral Robert Dennison. The document, prepared in 1963, is entirely devoted to the events of the Cuban crisis. There it is black and white: the development of plans for an airstrike, invasion, or a combination of the two was completed, and the troops received the order to be number one ready for battle between 8 and October 12 of 1962. But the aerial photographs of the rockets were made on October 14, 15-th were printed and analyzed, and shown to President Kennedy on 16-th. So everything was decided in advance.
During the crisis, John F. Kennedy constantly argued to his brother that the United States would inevitably come to war if they put the Soviet Union in a position that, according to Moscow, would adversely affect national security or would be so humiliating that the USSR would lose respect from its own and other nations.
And the Soviet side? As Gromyko testified, Moscow also carried out intensive and intensive work on finding common ground and bringing together views. The main link was the exchange of messages between Khrushchev and Kennedy. From 23 to 28 in October 1962, it took place daily.
But not everyone knows that during the Cuban crisis, Khrushchev and Kennedy agreed to exchange messages, bypassing the US State Department and the USSR Foreign Ministry, directly, through trusted people. The letters were delivered through the brother of US President Robert, Ambassador Dobrynin, secret couriers, journalists, and residents. This correspondence, a huge number of messages caused a sensation among political scientists and historians. The springs of the secret diplomacy of the leaders of the USA and the USSR in one of the most dramatic episodes of the Great Cold War have become visible.
For a long time it was not known who was the transmission link, the channel in the "conversations" of the leaders of the two superpowers. By the will of fate, the former front-line soldier Georgy Bolshakov, a graduate of the military academy, became one of the trusted representatives of all the secrets of the Caribbean crisis. The Americans (and compatriots in Washington) knew him as an employee of the Soviet embassy, and more specifically as an attaché for culture and editor of the magazine Soviet Life. Bolshakov had excellent relations with American politicians, journalists, literary and artistic figures. Through them, he went to Senator Robert Kennedy, the brother of the president.
We will tell about this man and his mission in Washington in more detail. In the guise, manners, behavior of Bolshakov there was something aroused the confidence of the Americans. Plus a sincere desire to develop relations between the two leading world powers. Georgiy Nikitich himself valued this trust not only professionally, but also in purely human terms. Especially when Robert Kennedy confessed in one of the conversations with Bolshakov: “My brother believes that the tension between our countries arose mainly because of a misunderstanding of each other, a misinterpretation of the intentions and actions of the other side.” That is why, he concluded, the president sought to expand the channels of informing the Soviet leadership about his “new frontier” policy. And demanded that each assistant had "his Russian in Washington."
When such a channel of communication with the Soviet leadership was created (in the person of Georgy Bolshakov), neither the Pentagon nor the CIA could influence it anymore ... It is clear how great this military-political value of the American and Soviet leadership.
In September 1962, Bolshakov (he told me about this many years later) flew on vacation to Moscow. And from there immediately went to Pitsunda, where Khrushchev was resting (George Nikitich remembered in detail how this meeting took place, as well as the communication with Robert Kennedy in Washington).
“We in Moscow are closely observing your contacts with Robert Kennedy, through whom we maintain contact with the president,” said Khrushchev. In Pitsunda, he took Bolshakov at home - in an embroidered Ukrainian shirt and straw hat. Mikoyan participated in the conversations. Our leaders were very interested in the question: will the United States go to a military confrontation with Cuba or not?
Bolshakov, as a political (and not only) analyst, passed through himself and interpreted a huge flow of information. And without specifying Moscow, he knew perfectly well that she could be interested in, which military-political problem would require additional analysis and coverage. He answered in the affirmative ...
After a detailed conversation, Khrushchev verbally conveyed to Bolshakov everything that the Soviet leadership intended to bring to the attention of Kennedy. “We in Moscow need to know everything,” Bolshakov Khrushchev said. But at the same time, I never even mentioned missiles, and even less projectiles.
George Nikitich returned to the States. He was immediately received by Robert Kennedy and expounded the oral message of Khrushchev. Bolshakov stressed that, according to the Soviet leadership, the situation has recently deteriorated mainly due to hostile actions of the United States in the Caribbean, around Cuba. In Moscow, disappointed with similar developments in a dangerous direction. Khrushchev and other Soviet leaders view the individual steps of the president as an attempt to talk to us from positions of strength. Although he knows perfectly well that such a conversation is impossible and will lead rather to an exacerbation, and not to an improvement in relations, to which the president is striving. After all, he himself has repeatedly recognized the equal balance of power between the two countries. Bolshakov conveyed the words of the Soviet leader about the need to do everything to reduce tension, and not to strengthen it by interfering in the internal affairs of other states. “We repeat again that the Soviet Union is sending to Cuba weapon only defensive in nature, and not for aggressive purposes against any state of the Americas, including the United States, ”Bolshakov Khrushchev quoted. And he conveyed the verbal assurance of the Soviet leader that Moscow, well aware of the position of President Kennedy, would not take any action against the United States until the November 1962 congressional elections. We hope, Georgy Nikitovich concluded, that after this we will proceed to a new round of active negotiations. Robert Kennedy promptly brought the message of Bolshakov to his brother.
The last meeting
At the same time, through the Soviet ambassador in Cuba, the views of the parties were brought to Castro. It was an active search for a way out of the crisis situation, the nodes of which were literally held in their hands by Robert Kennedy, Anatoly Dobrynin and Georgy Bolshakov. In the memoirs of Sergey Khrushchev about the father, the special role of this troika (American and two Russians) is mentioned, but Bolshakov’s mission is not disclosed in detail.
Needless to say, in what a difficult situation it was necessary to carry it out. The position of Bolshakov, as well as of our other diplomats in Washington and New York, at the UN headquarters was extremely complicated by the fact that Moscow stubbornly denied installing our missiles off the coast of the United States. While the whole world knew about American missiles, no secret was made of this. The truth about the missiles in Cuba to our representatives in the United States did not bring, however, hid it from the people. And what was Bolshakov, our other representatives, when the photos of our launch sites in Cuba, the Americans showed the world. After all, Robert Kennedy and other people from the entourage of the president, who sincerely wanted to resolve the crisis and normalize relations with our country, could blame their Soviet counterpart for insincerity. Should this happen, the communication channel could collapse and, consequently, the efforts of the parties to end the dangerous confrontation. But George Nikitovich in that situation did not make a single wrong step ...
As a result of mutual concessions, the Caribbean crisis was resolved. 20 November 1962, the year Kennedy announced the lifting of the blockade. And the Soviet missiles had already been removed from the island. A mutual search began for ways to ease international tensions, to detente.
And what about Bolshakov? Shortly after the end of the Caribbean crisis, Robert Kennedy invited him to visit him. The president’s brother looked happy but very tired: the 13 days of crisis (hence the name of his book) were not easy for him. He addressed George Nikitich with these words: “Now we need to quickly forget everything that happened during these thirteen days and begin, as the President suggests, from a clean sheet, in a new way, not looking back at the past. From the accomplished, both parties should draw lessons and draw appropriate conclusions. The President believes that first of all we should not shift the blame for the crisis from one to another. No need to pose as a winner, and another defeated. "
This was the last meeting of the senator with Bolshakov. After that, the communication channel through the latter was closed. “The Russians,” Robert Kennedy later wrote, “considered that the position of Bolshakov was publicized and it would be best to withdraw him.” After completing his mission, Georgy Nikitich returned to Moscow. Now that he is no longer alive, one can say who he really was: an officer in the Main Intelligence Agency.
Colonel Bolshakov took with him many secrets of the Caribbean crisis, because he told me not all. This year he would have turned 95 years. He was born in Moscow in the family of employees of the railway. In the Great Patriotic War was at the front - a military translator, then assistant chief of intelligence division. After graduating from the Military Diplomatic Academy in 1950, he was assigned to the GRU. In 1951 – 1955 was on legal work in the United States - in New York and Washington. After the expiration of the overseas business trip served as an officer for special assignments under the then Minister of Defense Zhukov. When the marshal fell into disgrace, Bolshakov was returned to the GRU. And again sent to America, where he worked from 1959 to 1962.
Today, comprehending the events of 55-year-old, one cannot help thinking: even one person involved in the world of big politics, who deeply knows and analyzes it, can make correct predictions and conclusions. And this is the right political decision. Which, unfortunately, is still far from enough for state and military men.