The year 1962 – The United States and the Soviet Union were close to a nuclear war. Tensions across the globe were running high as the US had deployed ballistic missiles in Italy and Turkey within striking distance of Moscow. The Soviet Union retaliated by trying to deploy missiles in Cuba within an arms-reach of all the major cities in the United States.
The year 2019 – History is again repeating itself as the current President of Russia, the successor of the Soviet Union, has issued a stern warning that Russia is ready for a missile crisis similar to the one witnessed in 1962. But that is if the US wants one.
What is The Current Crisis All About?
The current mess can be blamed on US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. The treaty was signed in 1987 between the then President of the United States Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, General Secretary of the Soviet Union. As per the arms-control treaty, all the land-based cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and missile launchers with a range between 310 and 3,420 miles were to be eliminated. However, the air or sea launched missiles were kept out of the treaty’s agreement. The treaty is aimed at the United States and Russia, and does not include other major nuclear powers such as China.
But the treaty met its end in early 2019. In November 2018, Trump announced his decision to pull out of the treaty, which was formally suspended on February 1, 2019. Russia did likewise and suspended the treaty the very next day. As per Donald Trump, Russia’s violation of the treaty led to the US to withdraw. With this has emerged the prospect of the start of a new wave of arms race between the two countries. Russia is fearful that with the end of the treaty, the United States would deploy intermediate-range nuclear missiles in Europe placing Moscow at a grave risk.
Is There Any Possibility of a Nuclear War?
As of now, it is unlikely that arms would actually be deployed because it would be economically devastating and would involve loss of innumerable lives. Putin has made it clear that, he is not in favor of an arms race with the United States. But, at the same time, has warned the US that in case his country feels threatened, hyper-sonic missiles on Russian ships and submarines might be deployed. These will be placed just outside the territorial waters of the United States. But Putin has gone on to add that despite the strained relations between the two countries, the situation has not yet reached the alarming levels as witnessed during the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.
A Brief About The 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis
The world was really close to a nuclear war in 1962. The US had tried to overthrow Fidel Castro, leader of Cuba, but had miserably failed. Fearful of another attack, Castro gave the Soviet Union permission to deploy its missiles in Cuba. This move put the United States in danger as its prominent cities were on the radar of the Soviet missiles. Meanwhile, the US missiles deployed in Turkey and Italy were already aiming at Moscow. But the Soviets also had an edge as they could launch missiles even before the US had a chance to react. Nevertheless, the world was sparred the devastation as the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev sent a message to the President of the US, John F Kennedy, to remove missile from Cuba, if the US pledged that it would not invade the small nation. He further stated that if US does away with its military installations in Turkey, the Soviet Union would reciprocate by dismantling its missiles in Cuba.
Though not as grave as the 1962 crisis, but the world would sure like to see the current tense situation fizzle out as soon as possible.