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How did relations between USA & USSR change in the years 1955-62?

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Introduction

How did relations between USA & USSR change in the years 1955-62? Between the years of 55-62 there were a lot of significant changes in the attitudes of each country. Over the seven-year period each side experienced it's own ups and downs, as well as awkward situations. Many significant events such as the Warsaw pact and the Arms race occurred creating stressful times for both of the countries leaders. The Warsaw pact was supposedly a counter move by the Soviets against the aggressive NATO alliance that featured a joining of western European states. The pact also formed due to West Germany's joining of the NATO alliance. It was similar to NATO in the way that if any one of the countries joined to the treaty, members would support each other. This then started to create more tension after a few years of momentary peace, after the end of the Korean War and the death of Stalin, both in 1953. This caused fear because the armed forces of the Warsaw pact highly outnumbered those of NATO, although NATO was ahead on nuclear technology. During February 1956, a new leader took over the USSR, a man named Khrushchev, he set out his policy of De-Stalinisation, portraying Stalin as a cruel leader of Russia and that his system of government should be dismantled. ...read more.

Middle

This also left the Hungarians rather bitter due to "Roll-back" where USA promised to help the people of East Europe if they revolted against USSR communism. This turned out to be an empty promise and they felt betrayed by the US. After the Thaw had finished in 1956 East and West relations got worse until 1961 when the Berlin wall was built. Berlin still remained a divided city 10 years after the Berlin airlift. In Geneva 1955 Khrushchev said how "he will never change his mind about the German problem. He had his mind set on pushing the Americans out of Berlin. Many Berliners crossed the border between East and West regularly for both work and leisure. Some known as defectors, never returned to East Germany. The Russians saw Berlin as a thorn in the side of the Iron curtain. During these times of tension the number of defectors heading west rose. Khrushchev had to decide what to do and had a few options available. If he sealed off Berlin as Stalin had done in 1948 it may cause America to declare war. Khrushchev also wasn't sure whether or not he could rely on his allies in the Warsaw pact. Gradually the amount of defectors heading west became embarrassing to Khrushchev and a loss to the east. Between 1948-60 250,000 had left the east to join the west, these consisted mainly of skilled, professional workers like doctors and lawyers. ...read more.

Conclusion

This became a rather large test for Kennedy who couldn't afford to lose face again to Khrushchev. Kennedy then decided to ring Cuba with warships to stop any more offensive weapons from reaching Cuba. This was the lowest point for relations but the highest possibility for nuclear war on the other hand. The breakthrough came on 26th October when Khrushchev was finally prepared to talk to Kennedy; he sent him a secret letter. In the letter was an offer that if Kennedy stopped the blockade and promised not to invade Cuba, USSR would withdraw their offensive weapons from Cuba. There was then a second letter received adding a third condition, that USA must withdraw its missiles from Turkey. John Kennedy's brother Robert suggested to only reply to the first letter, this he did. Khrushchev accepted the first offer and relations calmed down. After Cuba relations changed and things started to get better, the USA secretly withdrew its missiles from Turkey 6 months after the crisis. A "Hot line" was also set up between Washington and Moscow to try and improve communication. Both side also agreed brinkmanship must never be used again as it nearly led to nuclear war. Kennedy was also hailed as a hero who saved the world from nuclear war, even though Khrushchev had also accomplished everything he had set out to achieve, so in effect they both won the battle as it was solved without nuclear war. ...read more.

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