Khruschev Announces Soviet Union will Remove Missiles from Cuba in Radio Moscow Address

After much deliberation between the Soviet Union and Kennedy's cabinet, Kennedy secretly agreed to remove all missiles set in Turkey on the border of the Soviet Union in exchange for Khrushchev removing all missiles in Cuba.

At 9 a.m. on October 28, a new message from Khrushchev was broadcast on Radio Moscow. Khrushchev stated that, "the Soviet government, in addition to previously issued instructions on the cessation of further work at the building sites for the weapons, has issued a new order on the dismantling of the weapons which you describe as 'offensive' and their crating and return to the Soviet Union."

Kennedy immediately responded, issuing a statement calling the letter "an important and constructive contribution to peace". He continued this with a formal letter: "I consider my letter to you of October twenty-seventh and your reply of today as firm undertakings on the part of both our governments which should be promptly carried out... The U.S. will make a statement in the framework of the Security Council in reference to Cuba as follows: it will declare that the United States of America will respect the inviolability of Cuban borders, its sovereignty, that it take the pledge not to interfere in internal affairs, not to intrude themselves and not to permit our territory to be used as a bridgehead for the invasion of Cuba, and will restrain those who would plan to carry an aggression against Cuba, either from U.S. territory or from the territory of other countries neighbouring to Cuba."[24]

The practical effect of this Kennedy-Khrushchev Pact was that it effectively strengthened Castro's position in Cuba in that he would not be invaded by the United States. It is possible that Khrushchev only placed the missiles in Cuba to get Kennedy to remove the missiles from Turkey and that the Soviets had no intention of resorting to nuclear war if they were out-gunned by the Americans. However, because the withdrawals from Turkey were not made public at the time, Khrushchev appeared to have lost the conflict and become weakened. The perception was that Kennedy had won the contest between the superpowers and Khrushchev had been humiliated. However, this is not entirely the case as both Kennedy and Khrushchev took every step to avoid full conflict despite the pressures of their governments. Khrushchev held power for another two years.

IN MOSCOW, Khrushchev had gone to his dacha late on Saturday night to try to get some rest. Kennedy's letter was brought to him there the next morning. He immediately called all the members of the Presidium to the dacha to consider a reply. He argued that 'an immediate positive answer be given Kennedy as long as the United States guaranteed that neither it nor its allies would attack Cuba'.

The Presidium agreed and since every minute was precious, it was decided to transmit the response in a broadcast over Radio Moscow. The announcer began reading the letter before Khrushchev and Rodion Malinovsky, the Defence Minister, had finished writing it.

The crucial sentence read: 'The Soviet government, in addition to earlier instructions on the discontinuance of further work on the construction sites, has given a new order to dismantle the arms which you describe as offensive, and to crate and return them to the Soviet Union.'

Kennedy got the news just as he was leaving for Mass. 'Thank God, it's all over,' he said. General Surikov was more lyrical. 'I came out of the bunker to a golden autumn afternoon and I wept unashamedly as I experienced joy such as I had not known since I survived the Great Patriotic War.'

In Cuba, the Soviet forces began to ship the missiles and their warheads back to the Soviet Union. General Gribkov remembers: 'We told the Americans in advance how many missiles would be on what ships. On the open sea, US warships and helicopters approached our freighters so that they could see and count the missiles. For our military it was a public slap in the face.'