Question by roshambObama: Did Khrushchev know about the missiles prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis?
I’m doing a paper on the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I’m trying to understand the Russian motivations. It doesn’t make sense that Khrushchev would voluntarily sacrifice his power. There was no way he’d win. So, I wonder. Did he know they were being deployed to Cuba?
The deployment was done with extreme secrecy. The Russian military didn’t have the same level of civilian oversight, and the Great Purge of the 1930s hardened the government. Did Khrushchev get back-doored?
*** NOTE ***
Khrushchev sent two messages during the final days of the CMC. One was from a highly stressed out, possibly drunk, individual offering to remove the missiles for an American promise not to invade Cuba. The second was an Iron-Fist toeing the party line. This could signal that the party was using Khrushchev’s name without regard to Khrushchev’s actual wishes.
Please provide a link with your answers.
Okay, yes, we gave Turkey Jupiter missiles. However, neither Global Security nor FAS say they were nuke capable. Only wikipedia credits them with that capability. Moreover, Global Security says that we offered to train Turkish troops onto man the sites and would eventually turn them over to Turkey. Considering the level of security required for nuke material, I tend to doubt they were.
Italy might have had nukes. I doubt Turkey ever did.
Philip, do you have a link to that info? Unfortunately, nothing from the Kennedy’s is first-hand info. So I’d tend to believe Global Security and FAS over a book or movie.
******** Disregard **********
I missed that you said RFK wrote “13 Days.” Although it was published after he was killed. So editing?
Answer by Needful Sinner
“Did Khrushchev know about the missiles prior to the Cuban Missile Crisis?”
Yes he did, he was the one sending them to his buddy Castro.
“and I’m trying to understand the Russian motivations.”
Khrushchev also knew about the nukes the USA was shipping to their ally Turkey.
The US having nukes in the Continental USA didn’t bother Khrushchev so much, he had missile in the continental Russia aimed at the USA – that was fair and reasonable.
But the USA shipping nukes to Turkey was different, that means Russia’s neighbors have nukes – it’s one thing to have a missile launched from the USA or Russia, that gives the other side a bit of time to get to bomb shelters and stuff… but a launch from Turkey gives them little warning and no chance.
That wasn’t fair and reasonable.
So Khrushchev figured fine, we’ll put nukes right on your doorstep and see how you like it.
(apparently the USA didn’t like it much, so perhaps Khrushchev had a valid point 🙂
“It’s little wonder, then, that, as Stern asserts—drawing on a plethora of scholarship including, most convincingly, the historian Philip Nash’s elegant 1997 study, The Other Missiles of October—Kennedy’s deployment of the Jupiter missiles “was a key reason for Khrushchev’s decision to send nuclear missiles to Cuba.” Khrushchev reportedly made that decision in May 1962, declaring to a confidant that the Americans “have surrounded us with bases on all sides” and that missiles in Cuba would help to counter an “intolerable provocation.” Keeping the deployment secret in order to present the U.S. with a fait accompli, Khrushchev may very well have assumed America’s response would be similar to his reaction to the Jupiter missiles—rhetorical denouncement but no threat or action to thwart the deployment with a military attack, nuclear or otherwise. (In retirement, Khrushchev explained his reasoning to the American journalist Strobe Talbott: Americans “would learn just what it feels like to have enemy missiles pointing at you; we’d be doing nothing more than giving them a little of their own medicine.”)”
Answer by Jeff
Khrushchev certainly knew the missiles were in Cuba, something of that significance wouldn’t have been done behind his back. The motivation for deploying them in Cuba was that the U.S. has missiles deployed in Turkey which were capable of striking nearly any target in Russia and this was Khrushchev’s way of balancing the scales. This was also the compromise, the missiles were removed from Cuba and the U.S. removed theirs from Turkey, often the Cuban Missile Crisis is talked about as if the Soviets backed down but in reality a deal had been made in which both sides gave something and got something in return.
Answer by Nicholas
Khrushchev knew the missiles were sent to Cuba. The goal was to place a nuclear threat to the United States that the US couldn’t have retaliated against before the Americans could respond. It was also in response to the USA placing Jupiter nuclear missiles in turkey. Khrushchev gambled that the USA would not find out a out the missiles before they were operational thus having to accept their existence. The fact that the USA caught the Russians and Cubans red handed (pun intended) cost Khrushchev his job. The first message was based on him learning that launch authority had been given to local commanders to use nukes to stop an American invasion of Cuba. He knew if the American troops got nuked, then the USA would have wiped Russia off the map. The second message was the “official party line.”
Read all the answers in the comments.
Add your own answer!