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

The Cuban Missile Crisis affected relations between the United States and the Soviet Union in that the nations took steps to prevent a similar crisis in the future. It led to better communication between the leaders of the two countries. The US and the USSR also decided to reduce their nuclear programs. The improvements in relations were short-lived, as there were elements in both countries that felt that making these concessions showed weakness.

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Although the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war, it ultimately resulted in temporarily improved relations between the two antagonistic powers. When the crisis ended, President Kennedy and Premier Krushchev began the process of establishing better communications. It was hoped...

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Although the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of nuclear war, it ultimately resulted in temporarily improved relations between the two antagonistic powers. When the crisis ended, President Kennedy and Premier Krushchev began the process of establishing better communications. It was hoped that an open dialogue between the two leaders would prevent such a crisis from happening again in the future. The Moscow–Washington Hotline, a direct line of communications between the Kremlin and the Pentagon, was established. This phone line was to be used to bypass more traditional diplomatic channels and lead to more straightforward communication.

In a show of good faith, the United States and the Soviet Union both dialed back their nuclear programs. Both nations agreed to stop all atmospheric tests of nuclear weapons. In a deal negotiated in secret between Krushchev and Kennedy, the United States agreed to remove its nuclear arsenals from Turkey and Italy in exchange for the removal of Soviet missiles from Cuba.

However, the impact was limited. All in all, the Cuban Missile Crisis was an embarrassment for Krushchev. The Politburo blamed him for creating a situation that resulted in both the loss of face and concessions made to their US adversary. Two years after the crisis, Krushchev was removed from power. Kennedy, while mostly receptive to making mutual concessions with the Soviets, felt constrained by the hardliners in the government who still supported an uncompromising approach to Cold War relations. As a result, many of the improvements in relations between the two world powers that came about immediately after the crisis had been erased by the end of the decade.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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