73. Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy0

Dear Mr. President, I have just received information from Mr.V. Kuznetsov, our representative at the negotiations in New York for liquidation of the tense situation around Cuba, that Mr.Stevenson handed him a list of weapons which your side calls offensive.1 I have studied the list and, I must confess, the approach of the American side to this matter has seriously worried me. In such a move, I will say frankly, I see a wish to complicate the situation, because it is impossible indeed to place into the category of “offensive” weapons such types of weapons which have always been referred to as defensive weapons even by a man uneducated militarily—by a common soldier, not to say of an officer.

It is hard for us to understand what aim is being pursued by the introduction of that list, by setting forth such a demand—in any case it must be some other aim, but not a desire for a speediest clearing of the [Page 200] atmosphere. And it is being done at a moment when we have already agreed with you on the main questions and when we on our part have already fulfilled what we agreed upon—have dismantled rocket weapons, are loading them now on ships and these weapons will be soon shipped from Cuba. That is why I feel greatly concerned with the advancing of such demand by the American side, concerned with its possible consequences, if necessary reasonableness is not displayed.

The demand which has been set forth is evidently pursuing, as I have already said, some other aims and that—I would wish, Mr. President, that you understand me correctly—can lead not to the betterment of our relations but, on the contrary, to their new aggravation. We should understand the position each side is in and take it into consideration but not overburden, not complicate our relations, especially at such an important moment when measures are being taken to eliminate the acute tension and bring these relations to a normal state.

That is why I would ask you, Mr. President, to meet our anxiety with understanding, to take measures on your side in order not to complicate the situation and to give your representatives a directive to eliminate the existing tension on the basis upon which both of us have agreed by having exchanged public messages. You spoke to the effect that missiles which you called offensive should be removed from Cuba. We agreed to that. You in your turn gave assurances that the so-called “quarantine” would be promptly removed and that no invasion of Cuba would be made, not only by the U.S. but by other countries of the Western hemisphere either.

Let us then bring the achieved understanding to a completion, so that we could consider that each side has fulfilled its pledges and the question has been settled. If, however, additional demands are made, then that means only one thing—the danger that the difficulties on the way to eliminating tension created around Cuba will not be removed. But that may raise then new consequences.

I think that you will understand me correctly. For you and I will evidently have to deal not only with elimination of the remnants of the present tension—there lies ahead for you and me a great, serious talk on other questions. Why then start now complicating the situation by minor things. Maybe there exist some considerations, but they are beyond our comprehension. As for us, we view the introduction of additional demands as a wish to bring our relations back again into a heated state in which they were but several days ago.


N. Khrushchev
  1. Source:Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, USSR, Khrushchev Correspondence. No classification marking. According to Problems of Communism the Russian text was transmitted by the Soviet Foreign Ministry to the Soviet Embassy in Washington on November 4. A note on the source text indicates it was received on November 5. Other copies are in Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 77 D 163, and ibid.: Lot 66 D 204.
  2. Transmitted in telegram 1606 from USUN, November 2. (USUN Files:NY FRC 84-84-001, Outgoing Telegrams, 1953-1963)
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.