President Kennedy met Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev at a summit in Vienna. Khrushchev threatened to give East Germany control of access routes to Berlin, and Kennedy responded with a pledge to defend West Berlin.
President Kennedy learned of Soviet plans for missile installation in Cuba and announced a blockade on Cuba to prevent more missiles from entering the country. In the following days, Kennedy and Khrushchev exchanged messages under mutual threat of nuclear war. On October 28, Khrushchev agreed to halt missile work in Cuba, and Kennedy promised to withdraw missiles from Turkey. The agreement put an end to the crisis and averted an escalation to major nuclear conflict.
Nikita Khrushchev (1894–1971) emerged as a leader of the Soviet Union after the death of Joseph Stalin. In 1956, Khrushchev denounced Stalin and began working to improve the Soviet image in the international community. In the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, Khrushchev agreed to President John F. Kennedy’s demand to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba. The agreement was considered a humiliating defeat by Khrushchev’s fellow Soviets. His domestic programs also largely failed, and he was peacefully deposed in 1964.