556. Telegram From the Embassy in the Soviet Union to the Department of State 1

94. Khrushchev’s carefully qualified threat to aid Cuban revolutionaries in hypothetical conflict with US seems to be in tradition of boasts the Soviet power saved Egypt during Suez affair and prevented US intervention Iraq.

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There little doubt Soviets will make bogus claim that they prevented foreign military intervention in Cuba if it does not materialize. In reporting foreign reaction to threat, Soviet press has made use of parallels between Egyptian and Cuban situations and states that it has stiffened Cuban resistance to US.

Possible that move related to campaign against US bases. Clear from Khrushchev’s July 12 press conference2 that Soviets recognize effort establish own base Cuba would damage campaign against American bases elsewhere. But, on other hand, they prepared to give full psychological support at least to effort any country eliminate American bases. Threat support Cuba against US attack also counter to expression Western support for West Berlin.

However, threat to US in connection its relations with Cuba introduces new dimension to rocket-rattling in that it applies to situation and area where Soviet security interests less involved than in case of Near East or approach of foreign planes toward Soviet borders. It seems to be an incautious risk of Soviet prestige.

Believe that underlying motive for move is compulsion to recreate image of Soviet military superiority, which damaged by U–2 incident; and which seems have internal as well as external consequences (Embtel 28653).

Secondary motive may have been urge develop corollary to “peaceful coexistence” line which would give encouragement to Communist parties outside Bloc, as well as answer implied ChiCom criticism that Moscow has abandoned international Communist movement because of fear nuclear war. Might be helpful broaden our response to Soviet threats about military support for Cuba by expressing conviction not only US but no other country can be intimidated by Soviet rocket threats—pulling US together with countries from which Soviets endeavoring isolate US. Point should be made that Soviet motive here is to build on success of its psychological campaign claiming credit for stopping Suez conflict with its rocket threats against London and Paris. Point might be made had we supported rather than opposed Suez invasion, such threats would have been meaningless—and that we also have long-range missiles.

  1. Source: Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/7–1360. Confidential.
  2. Extracts from the transcript of Khrushchev’s remarks at this press conference in Moscow on July 12 are printed in American Foreign Policy: Current Documents, 1960, p. 210.
  3. Dated June 27. (Department of State, Central Files, 737.00/6–2760)