How did the Cuban Missile Crisis affect relations between the United States and the Soviet Union?

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mrkirschner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The fear of nuclear destruction was real during the 1950's and 1960's.  As the United States and the Soviet Union built up their nuclear arsenal, both sides had enough weapons to destroy the world.  The Cuban Missile Crisis in October of 1962 marked a high water mark in this fear of nuclear destruction. The main effect of the crisis was that both sides decided to take a step back from the harmful rhetoric and make attempts to find common ground. Nuclear destruction would not be beneficial to either side, so efforts were made to prevent this scenario.  The countries stopped confronting each other directly.  The crisis seemed to benefit the United States from a public relations standpoint because President Kennedy was seen as not backing down from communism and the Soviet Union.  The nuclear missiles were removed from Cuba which made it appear that Kruschev backed down.  The hit on Kruschev's image was a factor that led to the removal of the Russian premier in 1964.  The leaders that followed were more open to negotiating with the United States in terms of nuclear treaties.  In 1968, an international treaty called the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was forged.  In the spirit of preventing a nuclear war that was made possible by the Cuban Missile Crisis, this treaty attempted to stop the spread of nuclear weapons to countries that did not already have them.  It was an important step in the disarmament process and would probably not have been possible without the standoff between Kennedy and Kruschev in October of 1962.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In the aftermath of the Cuban Missile Crisis, both sides realized how close they had come to nuclear war. While the Soviet withdrawal marked a major embarassment for Khrushchev, and some among Kennedy's advisors were disappointed that the US had compromised, the leaders of both sides recognized the need for increased communication between the Kremlin and the White House. Kennedy and Khrushchev agreed to establish a direct telegraph link soon after the crisis, and it remained in place, along with a phone line that was added later, throughout the Cold War. The United States also removed Cuba as a possible flashpoint by promising not to invade the island nation, and while removing nuclear missiles from Turkey was largely a symbolic gesture, it did help relax tensions. It is also worth noting that after the Cuban Missile Crisis, the focus of the Cold War largely shifted away from direct standoffs between the Soviets and Americans toward proxy wars and military interventions in locations around the developing world.

mkoren eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The Cuban Missile Crisis had a significant impact on relations between the United States and the Soviet Union. During the crisis, our relationship with the Soviet Union was very bad. We didn’t trust the Soviet Union. We didn’t believe what they were telling us about the missiles and missile sites. Our evidence contradicted what the Soviets were saying. We blockaded the Cuban coast and told the Soviets we wouldn’t let their ships reach Cuban ports. Many people thought we were heading toward a nuclear war.

After the crisis ended, our relationship with the Soviet Union improved to some degree. Both sides realized how close we were to nuclear war. After the crisis, both the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to ban the above ground testing of nuclear weapons. This represented a slight improvement in our relationship with the Soviet Union. 

gsenviro | Student

The Cuban Missile crisis was a key point in the Cold War between the two main superpowers, Russia (then the USSR) and the United States. Even though the situation was defused by Russia's withdrawal of missiles from Cuba following a secret deal between Kennedy and Khrushchev, the crisis led to the realization of how these superpowers almost came to nuclear war. To prevent any such future situation, a direct communication line between Moscow and Washington DC was established (Moscow-Washington Hotline).   

This incident also led to the continued existence of communism in Cuba, although with non-friendly future relations with Russia. The US and USSR avoided direct military conflicts and started proxy wars through local governments or warlords across the world. Some examples of proxy warfare include the Iraq-Iran conflict, North-South Korea and Afghanistan.