Timeline of Key Points During the Cold War

FREEZE 1956 - 1962

1959: Cuban revolution -- Cuba taken over by Fidel Castro. US feared the spread of communism throughout Southern America, they saw this as communism within the US sphere of influence. Castro also made anti-American speeches.


1960: John F. Kennedy elected President

President Kennedy

1961: April -- Bay of Pigs invasion. At first the US tried assassination attempts. These failed so the CIA trained Cuban exiles to try and overthrow Castro using Guerrilla warfare. They planned an air strike but this was internationally opposed and cancelled. This doomed the operation. It was seen as a great humiliation for the US and it contributed to the construction of the Berlin Wall and placing nuclear warheads in Cuba, USA cancelled trade with Cuba.

1961: June -- Khrushchev met Kennedy, at the meeting Khrushchev believed Kennedy was weak and inexperienced. This contributed to the Berlin wall being constructed and nuclear warheads being sited in Cuba.

1961: Berlin Wall crisis -- The wall was constructed as a result of East Germans fleeing to West Berlin, the U2 incident where a US spy plane was shot down and the pilot captured, the Bay of Pigs invasion and JFK being viewed by the USSR as weak. This was seen by many as Soviet oppression, USSR called it an Anti-Fascist Defence Wall. The wall resulted in major tension between the USA and USSR. As the wall was being constructed Western troops were put on alert, there was a showdown at checkpoint Charlie. Many viewed this as the beginning of a possible WWIII. Confutation was avoided but resulted in Kennedy increasing military spending.

1962: Cuban missile crisis - The US discovered the USSR had sited nuclear warheads in Cuba. Why? The US had missiles in Turkey and Khrushchev’s low opinion of Kennedy meant he felt he could bully him. JFK ordered the blockade of Cuba, Khrushchev sent a message which said that if the US promised not to attack Cuba and the blockade was lifted they would remove Soviet missiles. The following day Khrushchev sent a tougher message, in which he demanded the removal of US missiles from Turkey. Kennedy agreed to the second message, USSR agreed to remove missiles if the US removed missiles from Turkey. Crisis over. Resulted in a Hotlink being set-up to improve communications. The Test Ban treaty was also passed and Détente resulted in 1969. The events after 1963 carried less of a risk of nuclear war, this could be seen as a turning point in the war.

Missile sites in Cuba