82. Letter From Chairman Khrushchev to President Kennedy0

Dear Mr. President, I have received your message.1 I express great satisfaction. I fully trust the statement made in that message too that the United States confirms its commitment not to invade Cuba which you also confirmed in your statement at the news conference.

In my confidential messages to you I have already laid down our understanding of the questions and of those steps which are needed to normalize the situation in the Caribbean area after the great and dangerous tension we and you have lived through.

No less important questions are facing us now, that must be solved to avoid recurrence of the situation which has just been eliminated through our mutual efforts.

You say that I was not able to convince Prime-Minister Fidel Castro about something. In general you are partly right. But it should be taken into consideration that Cuba is a young republic, the Cuban leaders being very able and devoted to their people are however young, expansive people—Spaniards in a word, to use it far from pejorative sense. But one should understand the position they are in as the leaders of Cuba. The Republic of Cuba is a small country having for its neighbour a big and powerful state—the United States of America, a state which has been unfriendly to her since the first day the Cuban revolution was born. Moreover, one should not forget either that there was an invasion of Cuba.

That is what has to be taken into consideration in order to correctly assess and understand the situation and, if you wish, the state of mind of the leaders of Cuba. I even think that Prime-Minister Fidel Castro may have looked upon some questions with a great sense of understanding but he probably also correlated his steps with the feelings of the Cuban people who are taken by a great patriotic upsurge and desire to defend their independence. The Cuban people and their desire are worthy of respect.

Of course, you and we have a different appraisal of the Cuban revolution and of the events which developed around Cuba and of the position of the Cuban leaders. But this is another matter. The different appraisal must not after all prevent us from finding agreed solutions in the interest of peace. That is what the peaceful coexistence is. One should [Page 225] treat both sides with understanding and take into account the actual state of things—in this case the situation in Cuba which has chosen the way for its development in accordance with the will of its people.

We have been doing with understanding and patience everything that was needed and that was within our power to ensure the achievement of agreement on the elimination of the remnants of the crisis. A great work has been done in Cuba on our instructions by our representative, my first deputy A.I. Mikoyan. Incidentally, he will come back soon because we have given him appropriate instructions to this effect.

I understood your message in a sense that you yourself regard with understanding the difficulties that still remain. I would wish that we having accomplished the main thing, having given relief to the world public and having given orders to the armed forces contributing to the normalization of the situation—and we gave such order at once as soon as we learned that analagous steps were taken on your side—that we would take speedy measures to complete the settlement of the questions that would crown all our efforts.

It would be necessary that appropriate instructions be also given to your representative, Mr.McCloy, for whom we and I personally, after my meeting with him in Pitsunde last year, have respect, despite the fact that he, as I told him half seriously and half-jokingly, is a representative of Wall Street. True, he tried to convince me that Wall Street was not so terrible a thing as I imagined. He even promised when I happen to be in New York to take me to Wall Street to try to convince me that this is so. I do not lose hope that one fine day Mr.McCloy will fulfil his promise, that is, will take me to Wall Street. But generally, as you understand, [that] is just a digression.

As for us, in connection with the completion of the questions which have not been completed yet, we on our part have already given instructions to Kuznetsov regarding proposals to that effect which, as far as I know, have already been forwarded to the attention of your representatives in New York. We consider these proposals to be constructive, and we were guided by a desire to facilitate the completion of our agreement.

Now I would like to express the following wish: it would be extremely useful if while working on the proposals no steps are made on your part that would be pin-pricks for the other participants in the negotiations and that would create hooks capable of causing scratches to national pride and prestige of these other participants. The main thing has been achieved indeed and at the final stage it would be necessary to create good, reliable relations so that, relying on common sense, on reason and on the understanding of all the responsibility that lies upon you and us, to reach a final solution on a firm reasonable basis and thus to create conditions for a good, stable situation in the Caribbean area.

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In this message of mine I do not raise any questions of substance since the questions that must be completed are known to you. Let us then make a joint effort to complete the remaining questions as well. This may serve as a good omen for both our sides in working out an approach for the solution of other not less important questions that we face. After all the question that you and we are struggling with is, though important, but a particular one. Meanwhile there are questions the solution of which is extremely important for destinies of peace and they must be solved in order to really stabilize the situation and secure lasting peace on earth.

Sincerely yours,

N. Khrushchev
  1. Source:Kennedy Library, National Security Files, Countries Series, USSR, Khrushchev Correspondence. No classification marking. Another copy is in Department of State, Presidential Correspondence: Lot 77 D 163. The Russian-language text is ibid. The source text is apparently a Soviet translation.
  2. Document 81.
  3. Printed from a copy that bears this typed signature.