History repeated

Ukraine is Europe's Cuba Crisis

Ukrainian soldiers on a tank Source DPA
The Minsk II ceasefire has largely held but shots are still occasionally being exchanged.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The Ukraine crisis could spiral out of control if Europe and the United States further antagonize Russia.

  • Facts


    • Violating international law in Ukraine is Russia’s reaction to fears over NATO, says the author.
    • Russia’s Black Sea fleet is stationed in Crimea, which was annexed by Moscow last year.
    • The author compares the Ukraine crisis to the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

In 1962, the Soviet Union and Cuba agreed to have Soviet nuclear missiles deployed on the island nation, just 90 miles from the United States. They were two sovereign states, so no one had the right to prevent them from doing this – if you follow the West’s prevailing arguments in the current Ukraine crisis.

But U.S. President John F. Kennedy saw a security threat. By threatening military force, he compelled the Soviet Union to dismantle missile sites and imposed tough sanctions on Cuba.

According to today’s arguments on Ukraine, the U.S.’s intervention in Cuba clearly violated international law. But most of the world appreciated what President Kennedy did at the time. The United States had already violated international law a year earlier, by supporting exiled Cubans in their failed Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Fidel Castro’s government.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.