US President John F. Kennedy with the USSR Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko in the Oval Office of the White House.
Photos from the Library and Museum named after President John F. Kennedy in Boston. Xnumx
Photos from the Library and Museum named after President John F. Kennedy in Boston. Xnumx
October 14 turned 50 years since the start of the continuing 13 days of the Caribbean crisis, which in the United States is called the Cuban Missile Crisis, and in Cuba, the October Crisis. During this period, the confrontation between the atomic giants — the USSR and the USA — reached the extreme point of the Cold War. The world quite looked into the eyes of the coming nuclear catastrophe. The events that took place then were repeatedly investigated by Western and Russian scientists. The National Security Archive (NSA), based in Washington, recently published more than four dozen top-secret documents showing that the White House was very seriously preparing to attack Cuba.
The emergence of a crisis in US-CCCP relations by the Soviet government was explained as the US response to the deployment of American medium-range Jupiter PGM-19 ballistic missiles in Turkey. In the 1961 year, 15 of such single-stage liquid-propellant rockets was installed on five launch sites around the city of Izmir. They were serviced by Turkish specialists, but the nuclear warheads were monitored and equipped by US troops. MRBM could hit targets at a distance of up to 2,5 thousand km, and the power of their nuclear charge was almost one and a half megatons.
The deployment of US missile launchers in Turkey caused unlimited indignation among the Soviet leaders. American missiles were highly mobile weapons of those times, and their pre-launch preparation took only 15 minutes. In addition, the flight time of these MRBDs was less than 10 minutes and the US was able to deliver a sudden and extremely destructive strike on the western part of the USSR, including Moscow and the main industrial centers. Therefore, the leaders of the Soviet Union decided to give an adequate response to America and secretly install their nuclear missiles in Cuba, which would be capable of hitting strategic targets almost throughout the US.
Nikita Khrushchev, the then Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the USSR and First Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, officially expressed his categorical indignation at the installation of American MRBMs in Turkey. Later, in his memoirs, he wrote that the shipment of nuclear missiles and strategic bombers Il-28 to Cuba was the first time that Soviet nuclear weapons carriers left the territory of the USSR.
Recalling those times, Khrushchev noted that for the first time the idea of deploying nuclear missiles in Cuba came to him in the 1962 year during a visit to Bulgaria. One of the members of the delegation, which Khrushchev headed, pointed out to the Black Sea and said that there are American nuclear warhead missiles in Turkey capable of striking the main industrial centers of the USSR within 15 minutes.
Nikita Sergeevich, who was a very emotional and overly categorical person, reacted very sharply to the Turkish action of the White House. Immediately after his return from Bulgaria, 20 in May, he met with Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, Defense Minister Rodion Malinovsky and Anastas Mikoyan, who was a trustee for Khrushchev and was engaged in foreign policy on his behalf. The head of government invited his colleagues to meet the constant requests of Fidel Castro to increase the number of Soviet military contingents in Cuba and deploy nuclear missiles there. The next day, the Defense Council by a majority vote supported the proposal of Khrushchev. True, not all of its members agreed with this decision. The most categorical against this action was Mikoyan.
The military and foreign affairs agencies were tasked with ensuring the secret delivery of military contingents, nuclear missiles and other weapons to Liberty Island, which since 1959 has been in economic blockade by the United States.
In late May, the Soviet delegation, which included politicians, military and diplomats, met with Fidel and Raul Castro. The latter led the Revolutionary Armed Forces of the Republic of Cuba. Representatives of the USSR offered to introduce Soviet troops into the country. This proposal, as the negotiators noted, turned out to be completely unexpected for the Cuban leader and even caused him some confusion. However, members of the delegation managed to convince Fidel of the high probability and extreme danger of American aggression. The next day, Castro agreed with Nikita Khrushchev’s plan.
All details of the upcoming operation to transfer troops and equipment were clarified during the visit of Raul Castro, who visited Moscow at the end of June 1962 of the year. During this visit, Raul Castro and USSR Minister of Defense Rodion Malinovsky signed a draft secret “Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Cuba and the Government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics on the deployment of Soviet Armed Forces on the territory of the Republic of Cuba”. This document was compiled by specialists of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the USSR Ministry of Defense. Fidel Castro made some amendments to this document, the essence of which was outlined by Ernesto Che Guevara who visited Moscow to the Soviet leader. 27 August Khrushchev approved Castro's proposals. In the final text of the treaty, it was noted that the USSR “in order to strengthen its defense capability” in the event of a danger of aggression by external forces will send its forces to Cuba, which will ensure the maintenance of world peace. ” In the event of military action against Cuba or attacks on the Soviet Armed Forces deployed on the island, the governments of the allied countries, using the right to individual or collective defense provided for in Article 51 of the UN Charter, will take "all necessary measures to repel the aggression."
INPUT OF SOVIET TROOPS
Military cooperation between Moscow and Havana began in the spring of 1960. In early March, the French ship Le Kouvre was blown up in the port of Havana, which delivered ammunition purchased in Belgium to Cuba. Since then, the US, leading in the Western world, has blocked all the possibilities of the Cuban government to buy weapons abroad. Almost immediately after this explosion, the plenary session of the Presidium of the CPSU Central Committee resolved the issue of military assistance to Cuba. In July 1960, a joint communique was signed during the visit to Cuba by the Minister of War of Cuba, Raul Castro. In this document long-term obligations of Moscow to Havana were formulated. The communique was open. It was only in July of that year that the Soviet leadership twice warned the White House of its readiness to provide Cuba with the necessary military assistance, including direct military participation in the country's defense.
The supply of Soviet military equipment was carried out from reserves stored in the warehouses of the armed forces since the Second World War. Havana got about three dozen tanks T-34-85 and self-propelled artillery systems SU-100.
After the events in the Bay of Pigs and the failure of 4’s approved April 1961 final plan for Operation Zapata, as a result of which Fidel Castro’s government, the government of the so-called 2506 Brigade consisting of specially trained and armed Cuban immigrants, was to be overthrown The USSR adopted a resolution on the expansion of military aid to Cuba. It was decided to supply weapons and military equipment to the island on preferential terms. 4 August and 30 September 1961, the relevant agreements were concluded. The total cost of the weapons supplied was 150 million. At the same time, Cuba was to pay the USSR only 67,5 million. By the end of March 1962, the Cuban armed forces received 400 tanks, 40 fighters MiG-15 and MiG-19, several radar stations and some others types of military property. The service and operation of the Soviet military equipment of the Cuban military was taught by Soviet instructors both at the deployment sites on the island and at training centers, at schools and academies of the USSR Armed Forces.
A group of Soviet troops to be deployed in Cuba (GSVK) was formed by 20 June 1962. Marshal Ivan Baghramyan, Deputy Minister of Defense of the USSR, provided overall leadership in developing a plan for the delivery and deployment of the Soviet military contingent in Cuba. Colonel-General Semyon Ivanov, Deputy Chief of the General Staff, and Lieutenant-General Anatoly Gribkov, Head of the Operational Directorate of the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces, directly prepared the plan.
The upcoming operation, about which he knew a very limited circle of persons, was carried out under the strictest secret. In order to mislead the US leadership and make it seem that it was just a strategic exercise and some civil action in the northern part of the USSR, the operation was called Anadyr.
The strategic missile division (16 launchers and 24 missiles R-14) and two missile regiments, armed with 24 launchers and 36 missiles R-12, were to enter the GSVK. These forces were given repair and technical bases, as well as parts and units of support and maintenance. The power of nuclear charges that could have been delivered to the targets hit during the first launch was 70 Mt. To cover the rocket forces it was planned to use four motorized rifle regiments.
In addition, a missile defense division, which included 12 launchers with 144 anti-aircraft missiles C-75, and an anti-aircraft artillery division, was to be deployed in Cuba. In addition, this group consisted of the regiment of front-line fighters MiG-21F-13.
Air Force GSVK included a separate aviation a squadron, a separate helicopter regiment, and two regiments of tactical cruise missiles capable of carrying nuclear charges. These regiments were armed with 16 launchers, 12 of which were intended for the Luna missiles that had not yet been adopted for service, and 42 IL-28 light bomber.
The naval component of the group planned to include a division of ships and crew from 11 submarines, 2 floating base, 2 cruiser, 2 missile and 2 artillery destroyer brigade of 12 missile boats, a separate mobile coastal missile regiment, armed with missile systems "Sopka" mine -torpedo aviation regiment, consisting of X-NUMX Il-33 aircraft, and a detachment of 28 support vessels.
The field bakery, the 3 hospital for 1800 people, the sanitary and anti-epidemic unit, the company for servicing the transshipment base and the 7 military warehouses should have been included in the GSVK.
The Soviet leadership also planned to deploy in the Cuban harbors the 5 fleet of the Soviet Navy, consisting of 26 surface ships, 7 diesel submarines with ballistic missiles carrying 1 Mt warheads, 4 diesel torpedo submarines, and 2 diesel torpedo submarines and XNUMX diesel torpedo submarines and XNUMX diesel torpedo submarines and XNUMX torpedoes. The redeployment of submarines to Cuba was to take place as part of a separate operation, codenamed Kama.
Delivery of troops to Cuba was carried out by the vessels of the Ministry of Maritime fleet THE USSR. The total number of the redeployed group of forces was almost 51 thousand personnel and up to 3 thousand civilian personnel. In total, more than 230 thousand tons of military equipment and other materiel were to be transported. According to preliminary estimates by Soviet experts, the transportation of missiles, which required at least 70 cargo ships, should have taken about four months. However, in reality, in July – October 1961, 85 cargo and passenger ships were used to carry out the Anadyr operation, which made 183 voyages to and from Cuba. Anastas Mikoyan later claimed that "we spent $ 20 million on transport alone."
However, the Soviet Union was not able to fully realize its plans to create the State Special Forces Command Group, although by October 14, 1962 had brought 40 nuclear missiles and most of the equipment to Cuba. Upon learning of such a large-scale transfer of Soviet troops and equipment to the borders of the United States, the White House announced the "quarantine" of Cuba, that is, the introduction of a naval blockade. The Soviet government was forced to stop the execution of Operation Anadyr. The redeployment of surface ships and submarines to the shores of Liberty Island was also suspended. In the end, all these actions of the Soviet government led to the Caribbean crisis. The world for 13 days stood on the brink of a third world war.
The US Navy's Neptune patrol aircraft is trying to locate IL-28 bomber containers on board the Soviet cargo ship.
Photo from the book Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons, Volume 2. Xnumx
Photo from the book Dictionary of American Naval Aviation Squadrons, Volume 2. Xnumx
SETTLEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
October 14 1962, the American U-2 reconnaissance aircraft, making its next flight over Cuba, in the vicinity of the village of San Cristobal, photographed the deployed positions of the BRSD R-12. These photos lay on the table of John F. Kennedy, caused a sharp reaction of the president and gave impetus to the Caribbean crisis. Kennedy, almost immediately after receiving intelligence data, held a closed meeting on the problem with a group of his advisers. On October 22, this group of government officials, which besides the president included members of the US National Security Council, some advisers and experts, in accordance with the Kennedy Memorandum on National Security Measures No. 196 received official status and became known as the Executive Committee (EXCOMM).
After some time, members of the committee suggested that the president exterminate Soviet missiles with pinpoint strikes. Another option for possible actions was to conduct a full-scale military operation in Cuba. As a final reaction of the United States to the actions of the USSR, it was proposed to block naval approaches to Cuba.
A number of meetings of the executive committee were held in strict secrecy. But on October 22, Kennedy made an open appeal to the American people and announced that the Soviet Union had delivered an “offensive weapon” to Cuba. After this, a naval blockade of the island was introduced.
As follows from the top-secret documents of that period recently published by the National Security Archive and from statements by officials close to the president, Kennedy was categorically against the invasion of Cuba, since he imagined the dire consequences of this war for all mankind. In addition, he was extremely concerned that a nuclear war could begin in Europe, where America had large stocks of nuclear weapons. At the same time, the Pentagon’s generals were very actively preparing for war with Cuba and were developing corresponding operational plans. The Kremlin also spoke out against the military outcome of the events.
The president instructed the Pentagon to assess America’s potential losses in the event of a war with Cuba. 2 November 1962 in a memorandum under the heading "top secret" the chairman of the military and military branch of the army four-star General Maxwell Taylor, who was quite active in advocating a military solution to the Cuban problem, wrote to the president in a memo that even if the invasion occurs without nuclear strikes, then 10 days of hostilities losses of the US Armed Forces can, according to the experience of similar operations, amount to 18,5 thousand people. He also noted that it is practically impossible to conduct such assessments without having data on the military use of nuclear weapons. The general stressed that in the event of a sudden nuclear strike from the Cuban side, the losses would be enormous, but he assured the president that the strike would be dealt immediately.
In connection with the exacerbation of interstate relations, Kennedy and Khrushchev began to send letters to each other every day, which offered various compromise ways out of the crisis. 26 October The Soviet government made an official statement. Moscow offered Washington to abandon the attack on Cuba and keep its allies from such actions. The Soviet government also said that if the United States ceased the naval blockade of Cuba, the situation around the island would change dramatically. The USSR government has expressed its readiness to give assurances to America that they will stop supplying any weapons to Cuba and withdraw Soviet military specialists from the country. This proposal found a positive response in Washington. But even before receiving an official response from the White House, the Kremlin put forward new conditions. The Soviet Union offered the United States, in response to the liquidation of its missile bases in Cuba, to withdraw the Jupiter missiles from Turkey.
By October 27, tensions between Moscow and Washington reached a high point. Nikita Khrushchev received a message about a downed U-2 reconnaissance aircraft and a letter from Fidel Castro that the US invasion of Cuba could begin in the next few days. All this is extremely worried about the Soviet leader, since events have steadily developed in the direction of the war. However, the next day, when the White House officially agreed with most of the Kremlin’s proposals, the Soviet Union officially announced its readiness to remove nuclear weapons from Cuba. Thus, the Caribbean crisis has come to an end.
It should be noted that both the USA and the USSR used informal channels during the discussion of their positions and used scouts, journalists and simply well-acquainted with each other and close to high-ranking politicians of the Soviet and American specialists to transmit their proposals.
Kennedy tried to resolve the crisis by establishing unofficial contacts with UN Secretary-General U Thann, who, in the evening of October 27, one of his emissaries in New York passed a completely secret message with a proposal to put pressure on Khrushchev. The president tried to attract Brazil, which had good relations with the Cuban leader, to resolve the crisis situation that had arisen by negotiating directly with Fidel Castro without the participation of the Soviet side. America wanted to offer Castro to abandon the Soviet missiles. For this, he was guaranteed the establishment of good-neighborly relations with the United States and other Western countries. But this presidential endeavor has lost its meaning, because Brazilian emissary General Albino Silva, who was authorized to bring Washington’s proposals to Castro, arrived in Havana on October 29, that is, one day after the decision of the USSR to remove its missiles from Cuba.
28 October 1962, the USSR Minister of Defense issued a directive on the dismantling of missile launch positions and the transfer of personnel to the Soviet Union. Within a month, all the Il-28 missiles and bombers were removed from Cuba. In Cuba, there remained a small contingent of officers, sergeants and soldiers of the Strategic Missile Forces and some auxiliary units. Then it was decided to transfer the Cuban army imported weapons and military equipment of the SV, Air Defense, Navy and Air Force. During the 10 months, the planes of the MiG-21, MiG-15, U-12 and An-2 aircraft were transferred to the Cuban Armed Forces; Mi-4 helicopters; Komar-type missile boats and a number of other weapons.
EVALUATION OF COOKAN EXPERTS
The latest assessments of this crisis were made in the work that has become available to the general public, Lead Specialist in Nuclear Weapons, the United States Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Robert Norris, and FAS Nuclear Information Program Director Hans Christensen.
Scientists note that in tens of thousands of pages devoted to the analysis of these events, only certain types of weapons are considered and the entire military potential of the opposing sides is not evaluated. In their opinion, the crisis was much more dangerous than many experts believe. This is due to the fact that during these events hostilities could have started due to someone's mistake, miscalculation or misinterpretation of the instructions of the leadership. They claim that by the time of the naval blockade of Cuba, which began on October 24 1962, 158 of five types of Soviet nuclear warheads had already been delivered to the island. American intelligence had no idea about this.
Robert McNamara, the US Secretary of Defense who was most active in resolving it during the crisis, wrote a letter to General Anatoly Gribkov, who represented the USSR Ministry of Defense at that time in 1997, wrote: “The United States believed that the USSR never took out and will not remove nuclear warheads from its territory. In 1989, we learned that this is not the case. At that time, the CIA claimed that there were no nuclear weapons in Cuba ... The CIA reported that on the island of 10 thousands of Soviet soldiers, at the Moscow Conference, we learned that there were thousands of 43 there ... Only in 1992, we learned that on the island there were tactical warheads. "
Scientists estimate that of all these warheads, only 95 – 100 units could be used, since only part of the P-14 missiles were delivered to Cuba, and of all the R-12 MRBMs brought in, only 6 – 8 missiles were in combat readiness. Several IL-28 bombers were in a state of assembly, and the rest were packed in containers. The greatest danger to the US Armed Forces was represented by two regiments of Meteor KFK-1 cruise missiles, which were equipped with 80 nuclear warheads and could strike a naval base of the US Navy in Guantanamo and an assault landing force.
According to experts, it is still unknown whether the OKNSH edited its nuclear plans in connection with the alleged invasion of Cuba, although there is evidence that this issue was considered by the generals. But on October 31 they decided not to use nuclear weapons in this operation. The question remains unclear whether the Commander of the SSMC General Issa Pliev had the discretion to decide on the use of Luna and KFK-1 missiles in nuclear equipment. All this, according to scientists, requires further study.
During the crisis, the strategic forces of the United States had much more power and were more reliable than their counterparties in the USSR. America had 3,5 thousands of nuclear weapons, a total power of 6,3 thousand Mt, 1479 bombers and 182 ballistic missiles.
Only 42 Soviet ICBMs that were in service could reach the United States. The Soviet Union had 150 long-range bombers capable of carrying nuclear weapons. However, to achieve the goal, they would have to overcome the American-Canadian air defense system, which was quite effective. At the beginning of 90, Army General Anatoly Gribkov stated that Khrushchev and his military advisers knew that the United States was superior to the USSR by 17 by times.
As American experts note, the Cuban missile crisis unfolded at the very early stage of the nuclear arms race, when each of the opposing sides was relatively immature in nuclear terms. The US nuclear forces were built on the principle of creating a deterrence barrier in the path of the main enemy - the USSR. The safety of America itself was then in second place. But it was the Cuban missile crisis that gave impetus to the process of subsequent negotiations on nuclear disarmament.