Others Involved

  • Georgii Kornienko
  • Nikolai Leonov
  • People’s Republic of China

Georgii Kornienko was a Soviet diplomat who was an attaché at the Soviet embassy in Washington during Cuban Missile Crisis.

  • Comprehensively prepare foreign policy decisions, taking into account all “objective and subjective factors;” also, understand your adversary’s position.
  • In times of crisis, one should neither rush decisions nor stall.
  • Do not to corner your opponent while trying to find the most appropriate way out of it for yourself.
  • The personalities of leaders are of great importance. As much as they differed, both leaders were guided by common sense and political will to find solution

Lesson: Need to prevent these types of crises in future, as they could easily escalate into a major war.

The Cold War: Testimony of a Participant, 2001. (translated from Russian)


Nikolai Leonov was a KGB officer stationed in Mexico during Cuban Missile Crisis.

  • “One mistake at the wrong time in October 1962, and all could have been lost. I can hardly believe we are here today, talking about this. It is almost as if some divine intervention occurred to help us save ourselves, but with this proviso: we must never get that close again. Next time, we would not be so lucky, as you put it.

Lesson: We “lucked out” during Cuban Missile Crisis. Avoid crises like it in the future.

Cited in Thomas S. Blanton and James G. Blight, “A Conversation in Havana,” Arms Control Today 32:9 (November 2002), 7.


  • “Anyone with common sense will ask: since the rockets were introduced, why did they have to be withdrawn afterwards? And in as much as the rockets were withdrawn afterwards, why had they to be introduced before?  According to you, there was a great deal of finesse in first putting them in and then taking them out . . . . But where is the [United States] guarantee [not to invade Cuba]?  Unfortunately, you do not seem to have much confidence in that . . . . The Soviet leaders blame China for not having supported them as an ally should. You had better look up the documents. Was there anything you did right during the Caribbean crisis on which we did not support you?  You are dissatisfied, but what exactly did you want us to support?”  (384)

Lesson: Placing missiles in Cuba and pulling them out as they did was a blunder by the Soviets that achieved little, except a undefined American pledge not to invade Cuba.

Chinese Statement on Cuban Missile Crisis, September 1, 1963, in William E. Griffith, The Sino-Soviet Rift (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1964).