On Sunday, the foreign minister of President Vladimir Putin needled Joe Biden over Ukraine, saying that he hoped the American leader had the intelligence to handle a major conflict akin to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
The worst standoff between Moscow and the West since the Cuban crisis, when the Soviet Union and the United States are seen as having come most dangerously close to nuclear war, has been brought on by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
After the Bay of Pigs invasion, a US-backed attempt by Cuban exiles to overturn communist authority that was foiled by Cuba, and the US deployment of missiles in Italy and Turkey, US President John F. Kennedy learned that Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had put nuclear missiles on Cuba.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said there were “similarities” to 1962 in an interview for a Russian state television programme on the missile crisis, partly because Russia was now threatened by Western armaments in Ukraine.
“I hope that in today’s situation, President Joe Biden will have more opportunities to understand who gives orders and how,” Lavrov said with a faint smile. “This situation is very disturbing.”
“The difference is that in the distant 1962, Khrushchev and Kennedy found the strength to show responsibility and wisdom, and now we do not see such readiness on the part of Washington and its satellites,” Lavrov said.
An inquiry for comment made outside of business hours was not immediately answered by White House representatives.
When the U.S. military dropped depth charges around a Soviet submarine on October 27, 1962, the submarine’s skipper attempted to detonate a nuclear bomb. The world was on the verge of a nuclear conflict.
Later on the same day, Kennedy quietly agreed to swap removing all missiles from Cuba for Khrushchev’s removal of all missiles from Turkey. The crisis was resolved, but it served as a cautionary tale about the dangers of superpower competition during the Cold War.
(with inputs from agencies)