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New Sources on the Role of Soviet Submarines in the Cuban Missile Crisis

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Drawing on evidence collected from eyewitness interviews, new Russian secondary sources, as well as recently declassified documents from both sides, the author significantly widens the academic understanding of the maritime dimension of this gravest crisis of the Cold War. Most significant is her conclusion that Soviet commanders were led by complex and challenging tactical circumstances, including unreliable communications and malfunctioning equipment, which might have prompted them to contemplate a resort to tactical nuclear weapons on more than one occasion. Almost as disturbing is the revelation that US forces were not aware of this particular threat. This research reveals how a chain of inadvertent developments at sea could have precipitated global nuclear war, underlining the extreme danger of the crisis.
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Keywords: Cold War; International Crisis; Soviet Foreign Policy; decision-making; nuclear weapons

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The National Security Archive

Publication date: 2005-04-01

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