INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS & SECURITY
Cuban Missile Crisis: Lessons for Ukraine
On the 60th anniversary of the nuclear showdown between the United States and the Soviet Union, Harvard Kennedy School Professor Graham Allison is drawing stark lessons from the Cuban Missile Crisis for the current Ukraine-Russia war. Allison, who has studied the missile crisis and other great-power rivalries for more than five decades, said in an interview that the key then and now is to avoid backing a nuclear-armed rival into an inescapable corner. In 1962, he said, President John F. Kennedy and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev created face-saving off-ramps away from the brink. In a John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum hosted by the School’s Institute of Politics, Allison spoke about the past and current crises with Nina Khrushcheva, the late Soviet premier’s granddaughter, and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a senior fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. All three voiced fears that neither Russian President Vladimir Putin nor his Ukrainian foes are showing any sign of compromise, with Putin’s threat to use tactical nuclear weapons raising the risk of nuclear war to its highest level in six decades.