Khruschev Letter to President Kennedy

     Dear Mr. President,


     Imagine, Mr. President, what if we were to present to you such
an ultimatum as you have presented to us by your actions.  How
would you react to it?  I think you would be outraged at such a
move on our part.  And this we would understand.

     Having presented these conditions to us, Mr. President, you
have thrown down the gauntlet.  Who asked you to do this?  By what
right have you done this?  Our ties with the Republic of Cuba, as
well as our relations with other nations, regardless of their
political system, concern only the two countries between which
these relations exist.  And, if it were a matter of quarantine as
mentioned in your letter, then, as is customary in international
practice, it can be established only by states agreeing between
themselves, and not by some third party.  Quarantines exist, for
example, on agricultural goods and products.  However, in this case
we are not talking about quarantines, but rather about much more
serious matters, and you yourself understand this.

His Excellency
Mr. John F. Kennedy
President of the United States of America
      You, Mr. President, are not declaring a quarantine, but
rather issuing an ultimatum, and you are threatening that if we do
not obey your orders, you will then use force.  Think about what
you are saying!  And you want to persuade me to agree to this! 
What does it mean to agree to these demands?  It would mean for us
to conduct our relations with other countries not by reason, but by
yielding to tyranny.  You are not appealing to reason; you want to
intimidate us.

     No, Mr. President, I cannot agree to this, and I think that
deep inside, you will admit that I am right.  I am convinced that
if you were in my place you would do the same.

     ....  This Organization [of American States] has no authority
or grounds whatsoever to pass resolutions like those of which you
speak in your letter.  Therefore, we do not accept these
resolutions.  International law exists, generally accepted
standards of conduct exist.  We firmly adhere to the principles of
international law and strictly observe the standards regulating
navigation on the open sea, in international waters.  We observe
these standards and enjoy the rights recognized by all nations.

     You want to force us to renounce the rights enjoyed by every
sovereign state; you are attempting to legislate questions of
international law; you are violating the generally accepted
standards of this law.  All this is due not only to hatred for the
Cuban people and their government, but also for reasons having to
do with the election campaign in the USA.  What morals, what laws
can justify such an approach by the American government to
international affairs?  Such morals and laws are not to be found,
because the actions of the USA in relation to Cuba are outright
piracy.  This, if you will, is the madness of a degenerating
imperialism.  Unfortunately, people of all nations, and not least
the American people themselves, could suffer heavily from madness
such as this, since with the appearance of modern types of weapons,
the USA has completely lost its former inaccessibility.

     Therefore, Mr. President, if you weigh the present situation
with a cool head without giving way to passion, you will understand
that the Soviet Union cannot afford not to decline the despotic
demands of the USA.  When you lay conditions such as these before
us, try to put yourself in our situation and consider how the USA
would react to such conditions.  I have no doubt that if anyone
attempted to dictate similar conditions to you -- the USA, you
would reject such an attempt.  And we likewise say -- no.

     The Soviet government considers the violation of the freedom
of navigation in international waters and air space to constitute
an act of aggression propelling humankind into the abyss of a world
nuclear-missile war.  Therefore, the Soviet government cannot
instruct captains of Soviet ships bound for Cuba to observe orders
of American naval forces blockading this island.  Our instructions
to Soviet sailors are to observe strictly the generally accepted
standards of navigation in international waters and not retreat one
step from them.  And, if the American side violates these rights,
it must be aware of the responsibility it will bear for this act. 
To be sure, we will not remain mere observers of pirate actions by
American ships in the open sea.  We will then be forced on our part
to take those measures we deem necessary and sufficient to defend
our rights.  To this end we have all that is necessary.

     Respectfully,               /s/ N. Khrushchev

                                  N. KHRUSHCHEV

24 October 1962

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