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1961 Vienna Summit - History

1961 Vienna Summit - History

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In advance of his meetings with the Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev, Kennedy's advisors attempted to prepare the President for what would doubtless be a challenging event. By and large, his advisors agreed that Khrushchev would try to intimidate Kennedy. Their first meeting took place in Vienna at the residence of the US Ambassador to Austria in the early afternoon of June3, 1961. The meeting featured a spirited debate between Khrushchev and Kennedy about their respective economic systems. The atmosphere improved during lunch. However, when the two leaders took a stroll later in the garden, Khrushchev relentlessly attacked both Kennedy and the US economic system. Later in the day, Dave Powers commented to the President how calm he looked during Khrushchev's attacks. Kennedy responded: " What did you expect me to do... take off my shoe and hit him over the head with it? "

The afternoon meetings were no better. Khrushchev continued his relentless attacks on Kennedy and American policies. That evening, a state dinner was held in the Schönbrunn Palace. Later that evening Khrushchev stated to his aides: " He is very young not strong enough; too smart and too weak. " The second day's meeting centered on Berlin and Germany. Khrushchev insisted he would sign a peace agreement with Germany with or without US approval, and without regard for US rights in West Berlin. Kennedy made it clear to Khrushchev that signing a peace agreement with Germany was not a problem, but blocking Western rights could lead to war.

When the formal meetings were over, Kennedy insisted on a short private meeting with Khrushchev. At that meeting, Khrushchev stated: " Force will be met by force. If the US wants war, that's its problem" . " It is up to the US to decide whether there will be war or peace. The decision to sign a peace treaty is firm and irrevocable, and the Soviet Union will sign it in December, if the US refuses an interim agreement. " Kennedy responded: " Then, Mr. Chairman, there will be a war. It will be a cold winter. " Kennedy left the meeting shocked to his core. He stated to James Reston immediately after the meeting that it was the " worst thing in my life" . Kennedy was convinced he could use his charm and work things out with Khrushchev. Now, after the meetings, he felt that war was a very real possibility. This encounter with Khrushchev forced Kennedy to rethink US policy throughout the world.

JFK and Khrushchev meet in Vienna: June 3, 1961

On this day in 1961, President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev met in Vienna for a two-day summit. In a letter delivered to Khrushchev in March, Kennedy proposed the two leaders meet for an informal exchange of views. Accordingly, they conferred without a set agenda.

Subsequent accounts, including Kennedy’s, confirmed that the summit did not go well. Khrushchev took a particularly harsh stance over Berlin, a Western enclave within communist-controlled East Germany, where the United States, Britain and France had maintained a symbolic military presence since the German defeat in World War II.

In addition to Berlin, Kennedy later told reporters, Khrushchev had berated him on a wide range of Cold War issues, including “wars of national liberation” and nuclear weapons.

“I never met a man like this,” Kennedy told Hugh Sidey, Time magazine’s White House correspondent. “[I] talked about how a nuclear exchange would kill 70 million people in 10 minutes, and he just looked at me as if to say, ‘So what?’”

At their final meeting, Kennedy sought to improve the chilled atmosphere over Berlin. “It is up to the U.S. to decide whether there will be war or peace,” Khrushchev said. “Then, Mr. Chairman,” Kennedy responded, “there will be war. It will be a cold winter.”

In the wake of the failed summit, Kennedy won congressional approval for an additional $3.25 billion in defense spending, a tripling of draft calls, a call-up of reserves and a beefed-up civil defense program. Khrushchev responded by resuming above-ground nuclear tests. Then, on Aug. 13, the East Germans began building a wall that quickly divided Berlin in two. Kennedy, in turn, sent Vice President Lyndon Johnson to the city, along with an Army battle group, to reaffirm his commitment to maintain Western access.

Source: “President Kennedy: Profile of Power,” by Richard Reeves (1993)

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1961 Vienna Summit - History

Good evening, my fellow citizens:

I returned this morning from a weeklong trip to Europe and I want to report to you on that trip in full. It was in every sense an unforgettable experience. The people of Paris, of Vienna, of London, were generous in their greeting. They were heartwarming in their hospitality, and their graciousness to my wife is particularly appreciated.

We knew of course that the crowds and the shouts were meant in large measure for the country that we represented, which is regarded as the chief defender of freedom. Equally memorable was the pageantry of European history and their culture that is very much a part of any ceremonial reception to lay a wreath at the Arc de Triomphe, to dine at Versailles, and Schonbrunn Palace, and with the Queen of England. These are the colorful memories that will remain with us for many years to come. Each of the three cities that we visited-Paris, Vienna, and London-have existed for many centuries, and each serves as a reminder that the Western civilization that we seek to preserve has flowered over many years, and has defended itself over many centuries. But this was not a ceremonial trip. Two aims of American foreign policy, above all others, were the reason for the trip: the unity of the free world, whose strength is the security of us all, and the eventual achievement of a lasting peace. My trip was devoted to the advancement of these two alms.

To strengthen the unity of the West, our journey opened in Paris and closed in London. My talks with General de Gaulle were profoundly encouraging to me. Certain differences in our attitudes on one or another problem became insignificant in view of our common commitment to defend freedom. Our alliance, I believe, became more secure the friendship of our nation, I hope-with theirs-became firmer and the relations between the two of us who bear responsibility became closer, and I hope were marked by confidence. I found General de Gaulle far more interested in our frankly stating our position, whether or not it was his own, than in appearing to agree with him when we do not. But he knows full well the true meaning of an alliance. He is after all the only major leader of World War II who still occupies a position of great responsibility. His life has been one of unusual dedication he is a man of extraordinary personal character, symbolizing the new strength and the historic grandeur of France. Throughout our discussions he took the long view of France and the world at large. I found him a wise counselor for the future, and an informative guide to the history that he has helped to make. Thus we had a valuable meeting.

I believe that certain doubts and suspicions that might have come up in a long time-I believe were removed on both sides. Problems which proved to be not of substance but of wording or procedure were cleared away. No question, however sensitive, was avoided. No area of interest was ignored, and the conclusions that we reached will be important for the future-in our agreement on defending Berlin, on working to improve the defenses of Europe, on aiding the economic and political independence of the underdeveloped world, including Latin America, on spurring European economic unity, on concluding successfully the conference on Laos, and on closer consultations and solidarity in the Western alliance.

General de Gaulle could not have been more cordial, and I could not have more confidence in any man. In addition to his individual strength of character, the French people as a whole showed vitality and energy which were both impressive and gratifying. Their recovery from the postwar period is dramatic, their productivity is increasing, and they are steadily building their stature in both Europe and Africa, and thus, I left Paris for Vienna with increased confidence in Western unity and strength.

The people of Vienna know what it is to live under occupation, and they know what it is to live in freedom. Their welcome to me as President of this country should be heartwarming to us all. I went to Vienna to meet the leader of the Soviet Union, Mr. Khrushchev. For 2 days we met in sober, intensive conversation, and I believe it is my obligation to the people, to the Congress, and to our allies to report on those conversations candidly and publicly.

Mr. Khrushchev and I had a very full and frank exchange of views on the major issues that now divide our two countries. I will tell you now that it was a very sober 2 days. There was no discourtesy, no loss of tempers, no threats or ultimatums by either side no advantage or concession was either gained or given no major decision was either planned or taken no spectacular progress was either achieved or pretended.

This kind of informal exchange may not be as exciting as a full-fledged summit meeting with a fixed agenda and a large corps of advisers, where negotiations are attempted and new agreements sought, but this was not intended to be and was not such a meeting, nor did we plan any future summit meetings at Vienna.

But I found this meeting with Chairman Khrushchev, as somber as it was, to be immensely useful. I had read his speeches and of his policies. I had been advised on his views. I had been told by other leaders of the West, General de Gaulle, Chancellor Adenauer, Prime Minister Macmillan, what manner of man he was.

But I bear the responsibility of the Presidency of the United States, and it is my duty to make decisions that no adviser and no ally can make for me. It is my obligation and responsibility to see that these decisions are as informed as possible, that they are based on as much direct, firsthand knowledge as possible.

I therefore thought it was of immense importance that I know Mr. Khrushchev, that I gain as much insight and understanding as I could on his present and future policies. At the same time, I wanted to make certain Mr. Khrushchev knew this country and its policies, that he understood our strength and our determination, and that he knew that we desired peace with all nations of every kind.

I wanted to present our views to him directly, precisely, realistically, and with an opportunity for discussion and clarification. This was done. No new aims were stated in private that have not been stated in public on either side. The gap between us was not, in such a short period, materially reduced, but at least the channels of communications were opened more fully, at least the chances of a dangerous misjudgment on either side should now be less, and at least the men on whose decisions the peace in part depends have agreed to remain in contact.

This is important, for neither of us tried to merely please the other, to agree merely to be agreeable, to say what the other wanted to hear. And just as our judicial system relies on witnesses appearing in court and on cross-examination, instead of hearsay testimony or affidavits on paper, so, too, was this direct give-and-take of immeasurable value in making clear and precise what we considered to be vital, for the facts of the matter are that the Soviets and ourselves give wholly different meanings to the same words-war, peace, democracy, and popular will.

We have wholly different views of right and wrong, of what is an internal affair and what is aggression, and, above all, we have wholly different concepts of where the world is and where it is going.

Only by such a discussion was it possible for me to be sure that Mr. Khrushchev knew how differently we view the present and the future. Our views contrasted sharply but at least we knew better at the end where we both stood. Neither of us was there to dictate a settlement or to convert the other to a cause or to concede our basic interests. But both of us were there, I think, because we realized that each nation has the power to inflict enormous damage upon the other, that such a war could and should be avoided if at all possible, since it would settle no dispute and prove no doctrine, and that care should thus be taken to prevent our conflicting interests from so directly confronting each other that war necessarily ensued. We believe in a system of national freedom and independence. He believes in an expanding and dynamic concept of world communism, and the question was whether these two systems can ever hope to live in peace without permitting any loss of security or any denial of the freedom of our friends. However difficult it may seem to answer this question in the affirmative as we approach so many harsh tests, I think we owe it to all mankind to make every possible effort. That is why I considered the Vienna talks to be useful. The somber mood that they conveyed was not cause for elation or relaxation, nor was it cause for undue pessimism or fear. It simply demonstrated how much work we in the free world have to do and how long and hard a struggle must be our fate as Americans in this generation as the chief defenders of the cause of liberty. The one area which afforded some immediate prospect of accord was Laos. Both sides recognized the need to reduce the dangers in that situation. Both sides endorsed the concept of a neutral and independent Laos, much in the manner of Burma or Cambodia.

Of critical importance to the current conference on Laos in Geneva, both sides recognized the importance of an effective cease-fire. It is urgent that this be translated into new attitudes at Geneva, enabling the International Control Commission to do its duty, to make certain that a cease-fire is enforced and maintained. I am hopeful that progress can be made on this matter in the coming days at Geneva for that would greatly improve international atmosphere.

No such hope emerged, however, with respect to the other deadlocked Geneva conference, seeking a treaty to ban nuclear tests. Mr. Khrushchev made it clear that there could not be a neutral administrator-in his opinion because no one was truly neutral that a Soviet veto would have to apply to acts of enforcement that inspection was only a subterfuge for espionage, in the absence of total disarmament and that the present test ban negotiations appeared futile. In short, our hopes for an end to nuclear tests, for an end to the spread of nuclear weapons, and for some slowing down of the arms race have been struck a serious blow. Nevertheless, the stakes are too important for us to abandon the draft treaty we have offered at Geneva.

But our most somber talks were on the subject of Germany and Berlin. I made it clear to Mr. Khrushchev that the security of Western Europe and therefore our own security are deeply involved in our presence and our access rights to West Berlin, that those rights are based on law and not on sufferance, and that we are determined to maintain those rights at any risk, and thus meet our obligation to the people of West Berlin, and their right to choose their own future.

Mr. Khrushchev, in turn, presented his views in detail, and his presentation will be the subject of further communications. But we are not seeking to change the present situation. A binding German peace treaty is a matter for all who were at war with Germany, and we and our allies cannot abandon our obligations to the people of West Berlin.

Generally, Mr. Khrushchev did not talk in terms of war. He believes the world will move his way without resort to force. He spoke of his nation's achievements in space. He stressed his intention to outdo us in industrial production, to outtrade us, to prove to the world the superiority of his system over ours. Most of all, he predicted the triumph of communism in the new and less developed countries.

He was certain that the tide there was moving his way, that the revolution of rising peoples would eventually be a Communist revolution, and that the so-called wars of liberation, supported by the Kremlin, would replace the old methods of direct aggression and invasion.

In the I940's and early fifties, the great danger was from Communist armies marching across free borders, which we saw in Korea. Our nuclear monopoly helped to prevent this in other areas. Now we face a new and different threat. We no longer have a nuclear monopoly. Their missiles, they believe, will hold off our missiles, and their troops can match our troops should we intervene in these so-called wars of liberation. Thus, the local conflict they support can turn in their favor through guerrillas or insurgents or subversion. A small group of disciplined Communists could exploit discontent and misery in a country where the average income may be $6o or $7o a year, and seize control, therefore, of an entire country without Communist troops ever crossing any international frontier. This is the Communist theory.

But I believe just as strongly that time will prove it wrong, that liberty and independence and self-determination-not communism-is the future of man, and that free men have the will and the resources to win the struggle for freedom. But it is clear that this struggle in this area of the new and poorer nations Will be a continuing crisis of this decade.

Mr. Khrushchev made one point which I wish to pass on. He said there are many disorders throughout the world, and he should not be blamed for them all. He is quite right. It is easy to dismiss as Communist-inspired every anti-government or anti-American riot, every overthrow of a corrupt regime, or every mass protest against misery and despair. These are not all Communist-inspired. The Communists move in to exploit them, to infiltrate their leadership, to ride their crest to victory. But the Communists did not create the conditions which caused them.

In short, the hopes for freedom in these areas which see so much poverty and illiteracy, so many children who are sick, so many children- who die in the first year, so many families without homes, so many families without hope-the future for freedom in these areas rests with the local peoples and their governments. If they have the will to determine their own future, if their governments have the support of their own people, if their honest and progressive measures-helping their people-have inspired confidence and zeal, then no guerrilla or insurgent action can succeed. But where those conditions do not exist, a military guarantee against external attack from across a border offers little protection against internal decay.

Yet all this does not mean that our Nation and the West and the free world can only sit by. On the contrary, we have an historic opportunity to help these countries build their societies until they are so strong and broadly based that only an outside invasion could topple them, and that threat, we know, can be stopped. We can train and equip their forces to resist Communist-supplied insurrections. We can help develop the industrial and agricultural base on which new living standards can be built. We can encourage better administration and better education and better tax and land distribution and a better life for the people. All this and more we can do because we have the talent and the resources to do it, if we will only use and share them. I know that there is a great deal of feeling in the United States that we have carried the burden of economic assistance long enough, but these countries that we are now supporting-stretching all the way along from the top of Europe through the Middle East, down through Saigon-are now subject to great efforts internally, in many of them, to seize control. If we're not prepared to assist them in making a better life for their people, then I believe that the prospects for freedom in those areas are uncertain. We must, I believe, assist them if we are determined to meet with commitments of assistance our words against the Communist advance. The burden is heavy we have carried it for many years. But I believe that this fight is not over. This battle goes on, and we have to play our part in it. And therefore I hope again that we will assist these people so that they can remain free.

It was fitting that Congress opened its hearings on our new foreign military and economic aid programs in Washington at the very time that Mr. Khrushchev's words in Vienna were demonstrating as nothing else could the need for that very program. It should be well run, effectively administered, but I believe we must do it, and I hope that you, the American people, will support it again, because I think it's vitally important to the security of these areas. There is no use talking against the Communist advance unless we're willing to meet our responsibilities, however burdensome they may be.

I do not justify this aid merely on the grounds of anti-Communism. It is a recognition of our opportunity and obligation to help these people be free, and we are not alone.

I found that the people of France, for example, were doing far more in Africa in the way of aiding independent nations than our own country was. But I know that foreign aid is a burden that is keenly felt and I can only say that we have no more crucial obligation now.

My stay in England was short but the visit gave me a chance to confer privately again with Prime Minister Macmillan, just as others of our party in Vienna were conferring yesterday with General de Gaulle and Chancellor Adenauer. We all agreed that there is work to be done in the West and from our conversations have come agreed steps to get on with that work. Our day in London, capped by a meeting with Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip was a strong reminder at the end of a long journey that the West remains united in its determination to hold to its standards.

May I conclude by saying simply that I am glad to be home. We have on this trip admired splendid places and seen stirring sights, but we are glad to be home. No demonstration of support abroad could mean so much as the support which you, the American people, have so generously given to our country. With that support I am not fearful of the future. We must be patient. We must be determined. We must be courageous. We must accept both risks and burdens, but with the will and the work freedom will prevail.

Vienna 1961: when Cold War tensions came to the boil

The charming young US president and the coarse Soviet leader, finally face to face: the Vienna Summit between John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev kicked off a whole new Cold War game on June 3-4, 1961.

For the 44-year-old Kennedy, it was an initial contact with the leader of the rival superpower. For Khrushchev, 67, it was an opportunity to batter an opponent he saw as weak and inexperienced after just four months on the job.

Nothing came out of the talks except a 125-word general joint statement, and the subsequent erection of the Berlin Wall and Cuban Missile Crisis underlined the deep distrust that remained between the two superpowers.

According to the State Department's official account of the talks, tensions were particularly acute over Berlin with Khrushchev at one stage telling his interlocutor: "If the US wants to start a war over Germany let it be so."

Kennedy famously warned of a "cold winter" ahead and later admitted to a New York Times journalist: "He just beat the hell out of me."

But for all the evidence of deep mutual distrust, some historians argue that the talks were crucial in averting ultimate catastrophe.

"The two sides got a vision of hell in Vienna, they saw the apocalypse of a nuclear war," said Stefan Karner, head of Austria's Ludwig Boltzmann Institute on the Consequences of War and co-author of a newly published book entitled "The Vienna Summit 1961" ("Der Wiener Gipfel 1961").

"What the Vienna Summit did achieve. was to drive home the danger of a nuclear confrontation, specifically that the danger was real, and that the two superpowers needed to confront it," US ambassador to Austria William Eacho noted at a recent conference on the historic meeting, which he described as a "mutual sizing-up" between Kennedy and Khrushchev.

Two months later, the Berlin Wall was erected and in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis brought the world to the brink of nuclear war.

But despite this escalation, the firing off of nuclear warheads was ultimately averted, thanks to the tentative ties that starting being built in June 1961, according to Karner.

"Without this confidence-building in Vienna, it is likely that (the missile crisis in) Cuba would have gone very differently," the historian told AFP.

"One can say the Cold War would probably have been much worse. so Vienna most likely contributed to the Cold War not becoming a hot one."

Having just taken office four months earlier and following the Bay of Pigs fiasco in Cuba in April, Kennedy came to the summit in a position of weakness compared to Khrushchev, whose country had just put the first man in space.

However, he did not fold on the crucial issue of divided Berlin and some say Khrushchev revised his initial judgment of the US president.

In the end, the two-day meeting and the leaders' resulting perceptions of each other helped shape the rest of the Cold War.

"Something was set in motion here that survived throughout the whole Cold War: the possibility at times of serious tension to still communicate with one another," said Karner, even though Kennedy and Khrushchev never met again after June 1961.

For Austria, the grand spectacle - some 1,500 journalists were accredited to cover the summit - was also a recognition of its neutrality and central position between the two competing blocs.

Crowds lined the streets and stood on balconies as John F. Kennedy's motorcade drove by, accompanied by dozens of police officers on motorbikes, while Russian expatriates greeted Khrushchev as he stepped off the train from Moscow after a journey of several days.

"Had the atmosphere not been defined by tolerance but been disturbed by various protests, this would have thrown a shadow onto the summit," Bruno Kreisky, then Austrian foreign minister and later chancellor, told the Austria Press Agency after the historic event.

In the following years, Vienna became the seat of major international organisations, including the United Nations, for which many politicians and observers credit the June 1961 meeting.

Biden's Summit With Putin Follows A Harrowing History Of U.S. Meetings With Russia

President Biden's first meeting with Russian leader Vladimir Putin could be the most contentious between the leaders of the two countries since the Cold War ended three decades ago.

Biden has an agenda of grievances, complaints and protests pertaining to Russian activities abroad and Putin's suppression of dissidents at home. Putin has shown no interest in altering his behavior and has his own lists of accusations about U.S. actions in Europe and the Middle East.

So this meeting June 16 in Geneva, unlike Putin's meeting with President Trump in 2018, will recall the long and often tumultuous series of summits between the leaders of the two powers dating back to World War II and their decades of jockeying for dominance on the global stage.

Creating the postwar world

The postwar world was born, in a real sense, in the first summit meetings between U.S. and Soviet leaders while World War II raged. Soviet dictator Josef Stalin met twice with President Franklin Roosevelt and then with his successor, Harry Truman, each time with the fate of entire continents very much in the balance.

Roosevelt met Stalin in 1943 and early in 1945, both times in the presence of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill. In the 1943 meeting, held in Tehran, Stalin promised not to make a separate peace with Germany, and the Anglo-American leaders promised to open a second front in France within a year.

In February 1945, with Germany nearing defeat, the Big 3 met at Yalta, the Soviet Black Sea resort. Here, Stalin promised to enter the war against Japan after Germany had surrendered, but did not make any commitments regarding the European territory his Red Army was taking from the retreating Nazis. At that point, Roosevelt had only weeks to live.

In July 1945, after Germany had surrendered and Roosevelt had died, Truman took his place at a meeting of the Big 3 at Potsdam, near a bombed-out Berlin. He would learn in the course of the conference that the first nuclear explosion had been successful at a test site in New Mexico. Historians have long debated whether Truman, who had been president less than four months, should have used this knowledge to put more pressure on Stalin. As it happened, the Soviets promised to join and respect the United Nations, and to hold free elections in the countries they occupied — a promise they would not keep.

The Cold War and the Eisenhower era

For conservatives in the Western democracies, the Yalta and Potsdam meetings came to be viewed as a triumph for Stalin and communism in general. They placed much of the blame on the American presidents who had negotiated with Stalin, and on the State Department leaders and bureaucracies installed during the 20 years those presidents were in office.

Much of this feeling reached a crescendo with the Korean War (1950-1953), contributing to the landslide election of Republican Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1952, with California's Richard M. Nixon as his vice president.

A year later, Stalin died suddenly, and a power struggle produced a new central figure in Nikita Khrushchev. While far less imposing than Stalin, whose tyranny he denounced, Khrushchev was committed to communism and its competition with the West.

Eisenhower was secure enough in his presidency to sit down with Khrushchev in 1955 at the first "Geneva Summit." Joining them were the leaders of Britain and France. There was also talk of trade and the beginnings of discussions about nuclear arms controls and reductions.

In 1959, Khrushchev made the first visit to the U.S. by a Soviet leader, a public relations tour de force that included a visit to a farm in Iowa and a summit with Eisenhower at Camp David. Plans were made for a major summit the following year in Paris that was to include the British and French. But when that meeting convened in May 1960, news came of a U.S. spy plane being shot down over Russia (the U-2 incident), and Khrushchev abruptly left the summit.

Kennedy and Johnson: Berlin, Cuba, Vietnam

In 1961, Khrushchev sat down in Vienna with Eisenhower's freshly elected successor, a 44-year-old Democrat named John F. Kennedy.

Once again the Soviet leader seemed to be holding the high cards. Kennedy was smarting from the failure of an attempted invasion of Cuba to overthrow the Moscow-aligned communist regime of Fidel Castro.

Khrushchev considered this a sign of weakness. When Kennedy tried to get Khrushchev to acknowledge that nuclear war was unthinkable, Khrushchev seemed unmoved. That summer, the Russian-occupied zone in divided Berlin was walled off, in effect imprisoning its population.

But the focus of confrontation soon moved to Cuba. In 1962, U.S. aerial reconnaissance spotted missile launchers being installed in Cuba, with Russian missiles approaching the island by sea. Kennedy threw up a naval blockade and made it clear he would be willing to go to war.

Khrushchev recalculated his bet, recalled the missiles and withdrew the launchers. A test-ban treaty was subsequently negotiated and signed by both countries, although without another summit meeting.

The two men never met again. In November 1963, Kennedy was assassinated. There would not be another formal summit for six years.

Perhaps the least likely of all summit locations was the campus of Glassboro State College (now Rowan University) in New Jersey where President Lyndon Johnson met with the Soviet premier in June 1967. Khrushchev was gone, replaced by Alexei Kosygin, a far less mediagenic figure. Kosygin was in the U.S. for a U.N. meeting, and the New Jersey site was a midpoint between Washington and New York.

Johnson had become president on Kennedy's death but won a term of his own in a landslide in 1964, in part by demonstrating his anti-communist mettle and vowing to stop communist expansion in Southeast Asia. Kosygin for his part was more concerned with internal Soviet politics and needed the world stage to enhance his own standing at home as well as Soviet prestige.

Johnson wanted to continue the nuclear-test ban, but his main agenda was getting the Soviets to help him conclude the war in Vietnam.

The talks on Vietnam were inconclusive, but Johnson felt he had a freer hand because of the meeting and intensified the bombing of North Vietnam thereafter. The issue would continue to divide the U.S. and dominate the later phase of his presidency, eventually persuading him not to seek another term in 1968. Richard Nixon would win the election that year promising a "secret plan" to win in Vietnam.

Nixon introduces détente

When Nixon came to office as president in 1969, the American public was wearier of Vietnam than ever. He would spend much of his first time in office renegotiating the U.S. relationships with Moscow and Beijing, constructing a new balance for the global powers — with an exit ramp from Vietnam part of the bargain. The pivotal moments in his strategy came in 1972, his reelection year, when he paid visits to both Moscow and Beijing — the first sitting American president to be received in the Kremlin or in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

Although perhaps overshadowed by his visit with Mao Zedong in China, Nixon's visit with Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev was the more efficacious of the two. It increased pressure on the Chinese to do business with the American leader. And it gave Nixon the sense he had been seeking that he could continue to pave his road out of Vietnam with ruthless bombing campaigns and secret incursions into neighboring countries such as Cambodia.

Nixon saw his meetings with Brezhnev as a bookend for the Cold War era that began in Potsdam a quarter of a century earlier. The two men signed the first Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty limiting nuclear weapons and anti-ballistic missiles. And Nixon believed he had inaugurated a new era in which Russia might evolve away from autocracy when confronted by a united front of Western powers and uncertainty regarding the full support of China.

Ford and Carter: Brief turns at the wheel

Gerald Ford had been Nixon's vice president less than a year when the Watergate scandal forced Nixon to resign. Ford, who would fill out the remaining two years of Nixon's term, had two meetings with the Soviet leader Brezhnev, who remained committed to the ban on nuclear testing and the effort to prevent new countries from entering the "nuclear club." Both goals were reaffirmed at summit meetings between Ford and Brezhnev at Vladivostok in 1974 and in Helsinki in 1975.

When Ford lost to Democrat Jimmy Carter in the election of 1976, the Russians saw an opportunity with the new president, who had no foreign policy experience. In 1979, Carter and Brezhnev would sign the second Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT II) that had been in negotiation for years. But at the end of that year, Soviet tanks and helicopters invaded Afghanistan and installed a friendly puppet government in Kabul. Carter would respond by canceling U.S. involvement in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. That gesture would exact a political price at home for Carter, who was already battling high inflation and unemployment and a foreign policy crisis in Iran.

Reagan and Bush: The Gorbachev breakthrough

If Carter was confronted with some of the worst Soviet behavior in the Cold War period, his successor was able to enjoy and exploit some of the best. Ronald Reagan had campaigned against the Soviet Union throughout his political career, calling it the "Evil Empire."

At the same time, Reagan was deeply disturbed about the specter of nuclear war and wanted to end that threat. He wrote a personal letter to Brezhnev shortly before the latter's death that struck some of Reagan's own inner circle as naïve on this subject.

But early in his second term, Reagan discovered a new kind of leader in the Kremlin, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev, who not only shared his ambitions regarding nuclear weapons but was ready to commence the dismantling of the Soviet state itself.

Reagan and Gorbachev held their first summit in Geneva in November of 1985. No agreements were reached, but the climate had clearly changed. The two men met again in Reykjavik, Iceland, in October 1986 and actually discussed bilateral nuclear disarmament, although the U.S. Strategic Defense Initiative, a space-based anti-missile system, proved a stumbling block.

In December of 1987, the two leaders met in Washington to sign limits on short range and intermediate-range ballistic missiles. In 1988 they met twice more, in the Kremlin Palace and in New York City. The latter meeting also included the new American president-elect, George H.W. Bush.

The first President Bush would meet with Gorbachev seven more times, including in Washington in 1990, where they signed the Chemical Weapons Accord, and at a Moscow summit in 1991 where they signed the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I). Their last meeting was in Madrid in October 1991.

But these frequent, rather friendly encounters were overshadowed by far greater events that were taking place. The Berlin Wall was torn down by Berliners in November 1989, a symbolic moment in a series that would include the reunification of Germany and the collapse of Soviet-style communism in Russia and its former satellites. Bush and Gorbachev toasted the moment on a Russian cruise ship in the Mediterranean, issuing a symbolic declaration that the Cold War had ended.

Bill Clinton: The Moscow Spring

In the new Russian Federation, the Communist Party receded, and a colorful character named Boris Yeltsin became the elected president.

Yeltsin held two summit meetings with the U.S. president, the first in April 1993 during the early months of Bill Clinton's first term in the White House. The two met in Vancouver, and it was noted the degree to which they represented radical departures from previous norms in their respective countries. By the time they met again in Helsinki in March 1997, they had each been reelected but continued to face significant political opposition at home. Both would be impeached but not removed from office.

In 1999, as Yelstin and Clinton neared the end of their respective terms, there were heightened tensions over the U.S. role in the Kosovo War in the Balkans and over Russian suppression of dissidents and rebels in Chechnya.

In his last year as president, Yeltsin fired his Cabinet (for the fourth time) and appointed a new prime minister. The new man was Vladimir Putin, who was not well known at the time but was soon seen as Yeltsin's preferred successor. Putin spoke briefly with Clinton at two international meetings in 1999 and 2000.

The Putin era: Two decades and counting

Putin continued the pattern of meeting early with a new U.S. leader, sitting down with President George W. Bush in Ljubljana, Slovenia, in June of 2001, just five months after Bush's inauguration. It was a relatively uneventful beginning to the new relationship, but it was marked by personal rapport. Bush later said he had "looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy." He also said: "I was able to get a sense of his soul." Putin used the word "partner" in reference to the U.S.

In November of 2001, two months after the seminal event of the George W. Bush presidency, the attacks of 9/11, Putin visited Bush at his ranch near Crawford, Texas, and appeared at a local high school.

Putin and Bush held a formal summit meeting in Bratislava, Slovakia, in February of 2005, not long after the latter's reelection. The disclosed topics of the meeting included discussions about democracy in Russia and Europe, the North Korean nuclear weapons program and the regime in Iran. They also spoke at meetings of the G-8 and had a private meeting at the Bush family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 2007.

When Barack Obama took office in 2009, Putin was taking a time out as president due to term limits, serving as prime minister. But Obama paid a visit to Putin at his dacha outside Moscow in July of that year, expressing optimism about relations between the two counties. Dmitry Medvedev, Putin's carefully chosen stand-in as president, did not have a formal summit with Obama until April of 2010, when they sat down in Prague. There, the two signed a new START agreement aimed at limiting nuclear arsenals. The two had also previously announced they would not deploy certain new weapons systems, either offensive or defensive.

In 2014, Putin was officially back as president and relations with Moscow were tense. Obama and Putin would not have a summit, though they did speak with each other during a meeting of the G-8 in Northern Ireland in June 2013. They reportedly discussed the civil war in Syria and the nuclear programs in Iran and North Korea. They agreed to meet later that year but did not, at least in part because Russia gave asylum to Edward Snowden, a U.S. government contractor who had leaked classified documents.

Thereafter, Obama encouraged the expulsion of Russia from the G-8 as punishment for its illegal annexation of Crimea (a part of Ukraine). The ongoing Russian pressure on Ukraine was reportedly discussed when the two leaders spoke briefly at the June 2014 commemoration of the D-Day invasion.

They also spoke briefly at a G-20 meeting in St. Petersburg in 2013, before the UN General Assembly meeting in New York City in September 2015, and at the G-20 summit in Beijing in the fall of 2016. This was reportedly where Obama told Putin he knew about Russian interference in that year's election campaign and told him to "cut it out."

According to U.S. intelligence sources and subsequent investigations, that interference was intended to assist the election of Donald Trump.

If Obama saw the Russians as the clear-cut villains in his international morality play, Trump's attitude seemed quite the opposite. The consummate transactional politician, Trump saw the Russians literally as a group he could do business with.

Trump and Putin held a number of conversations over the course of Trump's presidency, beginning at the G-20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017. Another "pull-aside conversation" took place at the Asia-Pacific cooperation summit in November of that year, when Trump reported Putin "said absolutely he did not meddle in our election."

When the two held their one formal summit meeting in Helsinki in 2018, the Russian interference issue was front and center at the concluding news conference. Trump said Putin had denied the accusation and "I don't see any reason why it would be," putting Putin's denials on a par with U.S. intelligence to the contrary. The next day, Trump said he had full confidence in the U.S. intelligence community and said he meant to say "wouldn't" instead of "would."

Putin, who has been in power since 2000, will be formally meeting his fourth U.S. president. Looming over the June 16 exchange with Joe Biden: Russian interference in two U.S. presidential cycles extensive cyberattacks on U.S. targets that come from Russia or rely on Russian software, according to U.S. intelligence Russian incursions in Ukraine the pressuring of other Eastern European neighbors and the suppression of opposition figures within Russian itself.

Given recent actions from Moscow, expectations are low for any breakthrough in Geneva regarding these issues.

Documents in this collection that were prepared by officials of the United States as part of their official duties are in the public domain. Some of the archival materials in this collection may be subject to copyright or other intellectual property restrictions. Users of these materials are advised to determine the copyright status of any document from which they wish to publish.

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The impact of the Vienna Summit upon the relationship of the USA and the USSR - History bibliographies - in Harvard style

These are the sources and citations used to research The impact of the Vienna Summit upon the relationship of the USA and the USSR. This bibliography was generated on Cite This For Me on Monday, March 14, 2016

Vienna 1961: when Cold War tensions came to the boil

In-text: (AFP, 2011)

Your Bibliography: AFP, 2011. Vienna 1961: when Cold War tensions came to the boil. [online] The Independent. Available at: <> [Accessed 14 March 2016].

Bluth, C.

Soviet strategic arms policy before SALT

1992 - Cambridge University Press - Cambridge [England]

In-text: (Bluth, 1992)

Your Bibliography: Bluth, C., 1992. Soviet strategic arms policy before SALT. Cambridge [England]: Cambridge University Press, p.139.

Document 33 - Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XIV, Berlin Crisis, 1961–1962 - Historical Documents - Office of the Historian

In-text: (Document 33 - Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XIV, Berlin Crisis, 1961–1962 - Historical Documents - Office of the Historian, 2016)

Your Bibliography: 2016. Document 33 - Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XIV, Berlin Crisis, 1961–1962 - Historical Documents - Office of the Historian. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 March 2016].

Document 108 - Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XXIV, Laos Crisis - Historical Documents - Office of the Historian

In-text: (Document 108 - Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XXIV, Laos Crisis - Historical Documents - Office of the Historian, 2016)

Your Bibliography: 2016. Document 108 - Foreign Relations of the United States, 1961–1963, Volume XXIV, Laos Crisis - Historical Documents - Office of the Historian. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 14 March 2016].

Kennedy, J. F.

Public papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy

1962 - U.S. Govt. Print. Off. - Washington

In-text: (Kennedy, 1962)

Your Bibliography: Kennedy, J., 1962. Public papers of the Presidents of the United States: John F. Kennedy. Washington: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., pp.533-540.

John F. Kennedy: The President's News Conference

In-text: (John F. Kennedy: The President's News Conference, 2016)

Your Bibliography: 2016. John F. Kennedy: The President's News Conference. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 1 March 2016].

Reynolds, D.


2007 - Basic Books - New York

In-text: (Reynolds, 2007)

Your Bibliography: Reynolds, D., 2007. Summits. New York: Basic Books, p.181.

1961 Vienna Summit - History

On 3-5 August 1961 an extraordinary meeting of the Warsaw Pact leaders took place in Moscow. The main issue on the agenda was the fate of the German Democratic Republic (GDR). Almost three years earlier, Soviet leader Nikita S. Khrushchev had provoked an international crisis by giving Western powers an ultimatum: negotiate a final settlement of the German Question with the Soviets, or else Moscow would sign a separate peace treaty with the GDR, threatening Western occupation rights in (and access to) Berlin. By the time he unleashed the crisis, Khrushchev knew that Soviet possession of nuclear weapons meant that West Germany was not such a big military threat, but he feared that the FRG’s economic and political prowess might eventually overwhelm the weak, unstable GDR. There would then be the danger of a peaceful Anschluss and the Soviets, with all their tanks and missiles, would face a fait accompli and the undermining of their whole European security system. Thus stabilizing East Germany became a top priority for the Kremlin—and for Khrushchev personally, for he had committed himself to the preservation of a “socialist GDR” during the post-Stalin succession struggle. (See James Richter, “Reexamining Soviet Policy Towards Germany during the Beria Interregnum,” CWIHP Working Paper No. 3.)

East German communists, led by Walter Ulbricht, masterfully exploited Moscow’s fears of an East German collapse, edging the Soviets toward a decisive confrontation with the West. For them the ultimate solution was the “liberation” of West Berlin, removing its subversive influence as a powerful magnet for East Germans and East Europeans in general. Recently declassified Soviet documents reveal how serious and effective was the GDR leadership’s pressure on Khrushchev. It seems that the idea of a German peace treaty, announced by Khrushchev in November 1958, was conceived by the GDR’s Socialist Unity Party (SED). [Ed. note: For further analyses of newly available Russian and East German materials on the Berlin Crisis, see CWIHP Working Papers No. 5 (Hope M. Harrison, “Ulbricht and the Concrete ‘Rose’: New Archival Evidence on the Dynamics of Soviet-East German Relations and the Berlin Crisis, 1958-1961”) and No. 6 (Vladislav M. Zubok, “Khrushchev and the Berlin Crisis (1958-1962)”).]

Soviet leaders obviously realized that Ulbricht’s solution would posed an unacceptable risk of war, and hoped similar calculations in Washington and Bonn would produce a compromise —such as recognition of two German states with a special settlement for Berlin. But FRG Chancellor Konrad Adenauer’s tenacity, coupled with the disastrous turn in U.S.-Soviet ties after the May 1960 U-2 affair, left Khrushchev with little room for maneuver. He tried to gain time by postponing further action in Berlin until after the U.S. presidential elections in November, but any hope that John F. Kennedy would help him out of his predicament proved wishful thinking.

By Spring 1961, Khrushchev’s time was running out. The deepening Sino-Soviet rift rendered his authority as a communist leader more precarious than ever. Beijing and other militant communists blamed the Soviets for putting agreements with the West ahead of their internationalist revolutionary duty—and among the East German communists there was less sympathy for Moscow’s foreign policy than for the Chinese, who had only recently tried to “liberate” their own “imperialist-occupied” territory, the offshore islands in the Taiwan straits. In March, at a regular Warsaw Pact summit, Khrushchev promised to conclude a separate peace treaty with the GDR should a general settlement with the West prove impossible, and by early June it certainly looked this way from Moscow: Kennedy had attempted to “roll back” communism in Cuba at the Bay of Pigs and came to the Vienna summit with Khrushchev with nothing new to say on the German Question. In accord with his commitments Khrushchev pressed the Soviet position on a separate peace treaty and thereby catapulted the Berlin crisis into its most dangerous stage. Kennedy responded on July 25 with a speech that made it clear that unilateral Soviet or GDR actions to block Western access to West Berlin would mean war. Both leaders seemed to be heading toward an inevitable clash that neither desired.

The decision to cut off West Berlin from the GDR by a Wall thus came as a blessing in disguise both for Khrushchev and Kennedy. It stabilized the GDR regime for several decades and froze the status quo that both the Soviets and Americans came to prefer to the uncertainties and dangers of German reunification. From the Soviet viewpoint a divided Berlin was a lesser evil, but still an evil. All through the crisis the official Soviet line was to promote trade contacts with West Berlin and prepare the ground for drawing it, and ultimately West Germany, toward the East. The Wall meant that, in a 15 year tug-of-war for “the German soul” victory was with the West.

The August meeting in Moscow coincided with the moment when Khrushchev grudgingly agreed to bite this bullet. At the same time he warned Ulbricht, “not a millimeter further,” thus dashing his hopes for strangling and ultimately capturing West Berlin. Transcripts of this meeting were found by archivist Zoia Vodopianova and this author in the SCCD files during research for the CWIHP conference. I have translated selected excerpts from Khrushchev’s concluding speech at the conference, as they convey most vividly the mood and dilemma of the Soviet leader at the peak of the crisis. His address graphically reveals the contortions he had to go through when taking the decision to build the Wall. But one thing that stands out in this text is Khrushchev’s political realism even at the moment of his boldest gambling. He did not want to drive Kennedy into a corner, cognizant of domestic pressures on him and confident he could get away with dividing Berlin. Introduction, commentary, and translation by Vladislav M. Zubok, formerly of the USA/Canada Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, currently a visiting scholar at the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Oslo.

The Conference of first secretaries of Central Committees of Communist and workers parties of socialist countries for the exchange of views on the questions related to preparation and conclusion of German peace treaty, 3-5 August 1961.

Second session. 4 August. Morning. Present on the Soviet side: Nikita S. Khrushchev, Frol Kozlov, Anastas Mikoyan, Andrei Gromyko. Foreign guests: Walter Ulbricht (GDR), Todor Zhivkov (Bulgaria), Janos Kadar (Hungary), Wladyslaw Gomulka (Poland), Antonin Novotny (Czechoslovakia), Georgi Georgu-Dej (Rumania).

[Excerpts from Khrushchev’s comments:]

“Our delegation agrees completely with what Comrade Ulbricht has reported. We must wring this peace treaty. They [the Western powers] had hauled Germany into the Western bloc, and Germany became split into two parts. The peace treaty will give legitimacy to this split. it will weaken the West and, of course, the West will not agree with it. Their eviction from West Berlin will mean closing of the channels for their subversive activities against us.” (p. 139) “.

..I believe there are people in our countries who might argue: was it worth a cost to push this issue and let the heat and international tension rise. We have to explain to them that we have to wring this peace treaty, there is no other way. Every action produces counteraction, hence they resist fiercely. ” (p. 140)

[There was always an understanding, Khrushchev continued, that the West] “would intimidate us, call out all spirits against us to test our courage, our acumen and our will.” (p. 140) “As for me and my colleagues in the state and party leadership, we think that the adversary proved to be less staunch [zhestokii] that we had estimated. We expected there would be more blustering and. so far the worst spurt of intimidation was in the Kennedy speech [on 25 July 1961]. Kennedy spoke [to frighten us] and then got scared himself.” (p. 141)

“Immediately after Kennedy delivered his speech I spoke with [U.S. envoy John J. McCloy]. We had a long conversation, talking about disarmament instead of talking, as we needed to, about Germany and conclusion of a peace treaty on West Berlin. So I suggested: come to my place [Black Sea resort in Pitsunda] tomorrow and we will continue our conversation.” (p. 141)

“On the first day [in Pitsunda] before talking we followed a Roman rite by taking a swim in a pool. We got our picture taken, embraced together. I have no idea whom he is going to show this picture to, but I don’t care to appear on one picture with a Wall Street representative in the Soviet pool.”

“I said [to McCloy]: ‘I don’t understand what sort of disarmament we can talk about, when Kennedy in his speech declared war on us and set down his conditions. What can I say? Please tell your president that we accept his ultimatum and his terms and will respond in kind.’” (p. 142)

“He then said. [that] Kennedy did not mean it, he meant to negotiate. I responded: ‘Mr. McCloy, but you said you did not read Kennedy’s speech?’ He faltered [zamialsia], for clearly he knew about the content of the speech.” (p. 143)

“’You want to frighten us,’ I went on [to McCloy]. ‘You convinced yourself, that Khrushchev will never go to war. so you scare us [expecting] us to retreat. True, we will not declare war, but we will not withdraw either, if you push it on us. We will respond to your war in kind.’” (p. 143)

“I told him to let Kennedy know. that if he starts a war then he would probably become the last president of the United States of America. I know he reported it accurately. In America they are showing off vehemently, but yet people close to Kennedy are beginning to pour cold water like a fire-brigade.” (p. 144)

[Khrushchev said he had met Italian Prime Minister Amintore Fanfani, who came to Moscow ostensibly at his own initiative, but in fact at Kennedy’s prodding.] “How we could possibly have invited him in such a tense moment. We would have exposed our weakness immediately [and revealed] that we are seeking a way out, a surrender. How [could it be] you would ask, [that] Kennedy advised Fanfani to go to Moscow, and Rusk did not know about it. Why? Kennedy must be in a difficult situation, for Kennedy represents one party and Rusk another.” (pp. 145-46) [Khrushchev reports that he told Fanfani:] “We have means [to retaliate]. Kennedy himself acknowledged, that there is equality of forces, i.e. the Soviet Union has as many hydrogen and atomic weapons as they have. I agree with that, [although] we did not crunch numbers. [But, if you recognize that] let us speak about equal opportunities. Instead they [Western leaders] behave as if they were a father dealing with a toddler: if it doesn’t come their way, they threaten to pull our ears [natrepat’ ushi]. (p. 148) We already passed that age, we wear long trousers, not short ones.” (p. 149)

“I told Fanfani yesterday: ‘. I don’t believe, though, there will be war. What am I counting on? I believe in your [Western leaders’] common sense. Do you know who will argue most against war? Adenauer. [Because, if the war starts] there will not be a single stone left in place in Germany. ’” (p. 150)

[War between the USSR and the United States, Khrushchev allegedly told Fanfani, is] “hardly possible, because it would be a duel of ballistic intercontinental missiles. We are strong on that. American would be at a disadvantage to start a war with this weapon. They know it and admit it. America can unleash a war from its military bases they have on [Italian] territory. Consequently we consider you as our hostages.” (p. 151)

[British Prime Minister Harold Macmillan visited Moscow in 1959 and told Khrushchev that war was impossible. Khrushchev presumes that Western leaders continue to act on that conviction.] “Macmillan could not have lost his mind since then. He considered war impossible then and, suddenly, now he changes his mind? No, no. The outcome of modern war will be decided by atomic weapons. Does it make sense if there is one more division or less? If the entire French army cannot cope with the Algerians, armed with knives, then how do they expect to scare us with a division? It is ludicrous, not frightening. [De Gaulle admitted to our Ambassador a couple of weeks ago, Khrushchev says, that he did not want the reunification of Germany.] He pays lip service to it [reunification] because it is in Adenauer’s interests. Nobody wants reunification of Germany —neither France, nor England, nor Italy, nor America.” (pp. 151- 52)

[Khrushchev said he told McCloy:] “Listen, why is it that you cannot shake hands with Ulbricht? I shook hands with Adenauer and I am ready to do it again. Do you believe that your Adenauer is better than our Ulbricht? We praise our commodity.” (p. 153)

[If Western powers refuse to sign a treaty with the GDR, then, as Khrushchev said to McCloy:] “You will have no access [to West Berlin]. If you fly and violate [the aerial space over the GDR], we will down your planes, you must know it.” (p. 155)

“Why we were so blunt? Comrades, we have to demonstrate to them our will and decisiveness. ” (p. 156)

[What is the difference between the two parties of “monopoly capital,” the Democrats and the Republicans? Khrushchev admitted that real difference is small ] “but some distinctive features exist, one cannot deny it, since otherwise we wouldn’t have been politicians, but agitators, who say, that there is capitalism and working class, so one has to blame damned bourgeoisie and that’s it. Only Albanians understand it this way. ” (p. 156)

“Can we clash? Possibly. I told Fanfani, that [the American state] is a barely governed state. Kennedy himself hardly influences the direction and development of policies [politiki] in the American state. The American Senate and other [state] organizations are very similar to our Veche of Novgorod. One party there defeated the other when it tore off half of the beards of another party. They shouted, yelled, pulled each other beards, and in such a way resolved the question who was right.” (pp. 156-57)

“Hence anything is possible in the United States. War is also possible. They can unleash it. There are more stable situations in England, France, Italy, Germany. I would even say that, when our ‘friend’ [John Foster] Dulles was alive, they had more stability [in the United States]. I told McCloy about it.” (p. 157)

[Dulles was the enemy who] “resolved to bring us down to submission [sognut v baranii rog], but he was afraid of war. He would reach the brink, as he put it himself, but he would never leap over the brink, and [nevertheless] retained his credibility.” (p. 158)

“If Kennedy says it, he will be called a coward. But Dulles had never been called this way, [and people believed when he said] it had not to be done in American interests. Who could suspect Dulles? The man was anything but a coward. As for Kennedy, he is rather an unknown quantity in politics. So I feel empathy with him in his situation, because he is too much of a light-weight both for the Republicans as well as for the Democrats. And the state is too big, the state is powerful, and it poses certain dangers.”

“I think you will not suspect I am sympathetic to Dulles, only for the fact that he is no longer with us, so my sympathy cannot seek any goals.” (p. 159)

“I understand, comrades, and share this state of mind, that our enthusiasm for peaceful construction acts as poison, weaken our muscles and our will.” (p. 160)

“We got ourselves carried away with peaceful construction and, I believe, we are going too far. I will not name countries. This is the internal matter of each of the socialist states.” [But the Soviet Union had had to bail out some of them in the past by] “taking gold out of its coffers.” Khrushchev called all participants to live on principle, “Pay as you go.” [Po odezhke protiagivai nozhki], [and said a change of plans is necessary, a mobilization]. (pp. 160, 165-66)

“So I would consider us bad [statesmen] if we do not now make conclusions [to]. build up our defense. our military forces.” (p. 160) “If we do not have these measures worked out, then Americans, British, French, who have their agencies among us, will say, that we, as they put it, are bluffing, and, consequently, will increase their pressure against us.” (p. 161)

“On our side, we have already mapped out some measures. And we are considering more in the future, but short of provocations.”

“I told McCloy, that if they deploy one division in Germany, we will respond with two divisions, if they declare mobilization, we will do the same. If they mobilize such and such numbers, we will put out 150-200 divisions, as many as necessary. We are considering now. to deploy tanks defensively along the entire border [between the GDR and the FRG]. In short, we have to seal every weak spot they might look for.” (p. 162).

[Khrushchev doubted that Western powers would risk to force their way to West Berlin, because it would surely mean war. (pp. 163-65) But he said that chances of economic blockade of the GDR and, perhaps, of the entire Eastern bloc were “fifty-fifty.” That led him to comment ruefully on the dependence of socialist economies on Western trade and loans:]

“We have to help the GDR out. Everybody is guilty, and the GDR too. We let down our guards somewhat. Sixteen years passed and we did not alleviate pressures on the GDR. ” (p. 167)

[Khrushchev praised Ulbricht for “heroic work since 1945” and approved his collectivization campaign. “You cannot build socialism without it.”] (p. 168) [He conceded that the GDR, if not helped, will collapse.] “What will it mean, if the GDR is liquidated? It will mean that the Bundeswehr will move to the Polish border. to the borders with Czechoslovakia, . closer to our Soviet border.”

[He then addressed another point of criticism, why it was necessary to help the GDR to raise its living standard, already the highest among the countries in the Eastern bloc:] “If we level it [the GDR’s living standard] down to our own, consequently, the government and the party of the GDR will fall down tumbling, consequently Adenauer will step in. Even if the GDR remains closed, one cannot rely on that and [let living standards decline].” (p. 170)

[Khrushchev admitted the GDR cost the Soviets much more than they needed for their own defense.] “Each division there costs us many times more, than if it had been located [on the Soviet territory].” “Some might say, why do we need the GDR, we are strong, we have armaments and all, and we will stand on our borders. This would have really been a narrow nationalist vision. ”(p. 171)

“I wish we could lick the imperialism! You can imagine what satisfaction we’ll get when we sign the peace treaty. Of course we’re running a risk. But it is indispensable. Lenin took such a risk, when he said in 1917 that there was such a party that could seize power. Everybody just smirked and snorted then. World public opinion now is on our side not only in the neutral countries, but in America and in England.” (p. 178)

[He returns again to Kennedy’s dilemma.] “Presidential aide on mass media [Pierre] Salinger invited one day our journalists [to pay a visit to Kennedy]. He picked [Alexei] Adzhubei and [Mikhail] Kharlamov. [In presence of Adzhubei and the Soviet interpreter only, Kennedy admitted,] ‘If I do what Khrushchev suggests, my senators will arrest [impeach?] me.’ He is seeking my sympathy, isn’t he? So that I will spare him that? He said it so that I understood and let you know that he is in a bind, because his good will and decision was not enough. The situation is very grave there. It looks as if I am a propagandist for Kennedy, to make you less stern about him. You might turn on me for that, but I will survive. ” (p. 183)

“Summing up, our Central Committee and government believe, that now preparations are proceeding better, but there will be a thaw, and, more importantly, a cooling down. We have to work out our tactics now and perhaps it is already the right time.” (p. 184)

(Source: SCCD, miscellaneous documents of the CC CPSU International Department.)

US-Russia summit will not be a game-changer but at least the two sides are talking

It has been said so often since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea that US-Russia relations are at a post-Cold War low that the phrase feels exhausted, as tired as the continued efforts to find common ground.

In the long history of US-Russia summitry, the basic starting point in the Cold War era prior to the breakthroughs achieved under Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was that there should at least be a minimum of cooperation between the two Cold War superpowers.

Can Biden and Putin's face-to-face meeting heal the US-Russia rift?

That is once again the rather insubstantial premise on which presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin will be meeting in Geneva, where their predecessors have met twice before.

A chance for president Biden to spell out what it would take to get a better relationship with Russia a chance for president Putin to see what's in it for him a chance to see what the 'Geneva spirit' can do for US-Russian rapport this time round.

Nikita Krushchev and Dwight Eisenhower, France and the UK, in Geneva (1995)

The first Geneva summit in 1955 was billed as an attempt to reduce international tensions.

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The USSR's wartime leader Joseph Stalin who had reneged on post-war promises to allow democratic elections to countries brought under Soviet control had died two years earlier.

His successor Nikita Khrushchev was meeting face to face with US president Dwight Eisenhower, France and the UK in an attempt to wind down Cold War tensions.

Trade and nuclear arms controls were high on the agenda but West Germany had just joined NATO and in response, the Soviet Union promptly drew up the Warsaw Pact, a collective defence treaty for the Eastern states.

Mistrust ran deep and the status quo barely shifted.

Krushchev and John F Kennedy, Vienna 1961

Khrushchev would participate in three subsequent US-Russia summits, notably Vienna in 1961 where he met with John F Kennedy shortly after the failed US-backed 'Bay of Pigs' invasion of Cuba.

US attempts to push for nuclear arms reductions went nowhere and within a year the two powers would find themselves on the brink of nuclear war after the US identified Soviet nuclear-armed missiles in Cuba.

Richard Nixon meets Leonid Brezhnev in the 1971 Moscow summit

Fast forward a decade and Richard Nixon set about attempting a new strategy with both Moscow and Beijing.

He became the first US President to visit Moscow, (he had already visited as vice-president), and the second, after Franklin D Roosevelt, to visit the Soviet Union.

The Moscow summit saw a significant breakthrough on arms control with the signing between Nixon and Soviet premier Leonid Brezhnev of the Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT 1) and the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, which limited the number of ballistic missiles and anti-ballistic defence systems deployable by the two nuclear powers.

Discussions on arms control and a ban on nuclear testing would continue under Brezhnev but it was not until Mikhail Gorbachev's appointment as Soviet leader that cooperation between the two superpowers ramped up.

The 1985 meeting with Gorbachev and Ronald Reagan in Geneva

It was not only a political stepping stone to the most important treaty on nuclear disarmament signed in the Cold War era, the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but a meeting of minds.

Gorbachev recognised that the communist model was falling short, increasingly incapable of competing with the capitalist West let alone meeting the needs of its own people.

He also believed fervently in the complete elimination of nuclear weapons. In Geneva, both leaders issued a statement agreeing that 'nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought'.

It would take a summit in Reykjavik the following year to hammer out their differences but finally, in Washington DC in 1987, the two were able to reach an agreement on destroying an entire category of nuclear weapons - intermediate-range ballistic missiles - and on reducing their nuclear arsenals.

A high point in US-Soviet cooperation and a significant milestone in what would prove to be the final years of the Cold War.

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Between that Geneva summit and this one, a lot has changed.

The collapse of the Soviet Union, the turmoil within Russia of the 1990s, the advent of Vladimir Putin and the dismantling of most of the architecture around nuclear disarmament so painstakingly erected by those Cold War leaders.

The US, citing Russian violations, has pulled out of both the ABM and the INF Treaties.

The Open Skies Treaty which provided for unarmed aerial surveillance of each other's territory - first posited by Eisenhower in Geneva in 1955 - is no more.

Both sides point the finger of blame at each other.

The threat landscape has expanded significantly beyond strategic stability to include cyber, climate change and all manner of grey zone activities.

Within this context, Barack Obama's early attempts at a reset failed.

After Russia's annexation of Crimea, he refused to meet with Vladimir Putin except on the sidelines of multilateral events and made sure that Russia was expelled from the G8 group of nations.

Joe Biden the focus of attention as alliance prepares to talk tough on China and Russia

Donald Trump's summit with Putin in Helsinki in 2018 hardly set the tone for better bilateral relations even if it did provide a platform for a very peculiar form of mutual admiration.

The summit was overshadowed by allegations of Russian interference in Trump's election and despite his seeming affinity with his Russian counterpart, US Russian relations during Trump's presidency remained dire, punctuated by escalating sanctions against Moscow.

No one expects much from Geneva third time round. Both the US and Russian sides have been at pains to make that much clear.

This US-Russia summit will not be a game-changer but at least the two sides are talking - a sign at least of respect for the threat the other represents in what is fair to describe as a complete absence of trust.

ISBN 13: 9780739185568

This specific ISBN edition is currently not available.

At the beginning of June 1961, the tensions of the Cold War were supposed to abate as both sides sought a resolution. The two most important men in the world, John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev, met for a summit in Vienna. Yet the high hopes were disappointed. Within months the Cold War had become very hot: Khrushchev built the Berlin Wall and a year later he sent missiles to Cuba to threaten the United States directly.

Despite the fact that the Vienna Summit yielded barely any tangible results, it did lead to some very important developments. The superpowers came to see for the first time that there was only one way to escape from the atomic hell of their respective arsenals: dialogue. The "peace through fear" and the "hotline" between Washington and Moscow prevented an atomic confrontation. Austria successfully demonstrated its new role as neutral state and host when Vienna became a meeting place in the Cold War. In The Vienna Summit and Its Importance in International History international experts use new Russian and Western sources to analyze what really happened during this critical time and why the parties had a close shave with catastrophe.

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

Günter Bischof is a university research professor and director of CenterAustria at the University of New Orleans, Louisiana.
Stefan Karner is head of the Department of Economic, Social, and Business History at the University of Graz and director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research of War Consequences, Graz-Vienna.
Barbara Stelzl-Marx is deputy director of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Research of War Consequences and lecturer at the University of Graz.

Based on Russian and US archives and the multinational research efforts of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the Study of the Consequences of War in Graz, Austria, in conjunction with the Contemporary History Archives (RGANI) in Moscow and the Institute of Contemporary History in Munich-Berlin, this book represents a definitive study of the bilateral Vienna Summit meeting of Nikita Khrushchev and John F. Kennedy. The authors of the various articles are top scholars and, in the case of Ted Sorensen and Viktor Sukhodrev, participants in the summit. This valuable contribution to the history of the Vienna Summit's place in international history and in the history of the Cold War offers fresh assessments of Kennedy, Khrushchev, and the Kremlin's decision-making process. It shows, too, that the US had accepted the Soviet sphere of influence in Eastern Europe. The book is rich in documents and should be in every research library. Includes a useful introduction, index, and bibliography. Summing Up: Essential. All academic levels/libraries. (CHOICE)

Watch the video: Kennedy Meets Khruschev -1961 Vienna Summit (July 2022).


  1. Medoro

    cool !!!

  2. Macartan

    I can suggest you visit the site, on which there are many articles on this issue.

  3. Nimi

    Ideal variant

  4. Yojind

    It is the excellent idea

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