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The U2 crisis
President Dwight Eisenhower gave permission for the U2 to fly over Moscow and
Leningrad for the first time on 4th July, 1956. The U2 was a great success and within
two years Richard Bissell was able to say that 90% of all hard intelligence about the
Soviet Union coming into the CIA was funnelled through the lens of the U2's aerial
This information convinced Eisenhower that Khrushchev was lying about the number of
bombers and missiles being built by the Soviet Union. Eisenhower now knew that
United States enjoyed a major advantage over the Soviet Union and allowed him to
control defence spending.
May 1, 1960 , Fifteen days before the scheduled opening of an EastWest summit
conference in Paris, Francis Gary Powers, left the US base in Badaber on a mission to
fly over the Soviet Union, photographing ICBM sites in and around
Sverdlovsk and Plesetsk, then land at Bodø in Norway.
All units of the Soviet Air Defence Forces in the Central
Asia, Kazakhstan, Siberia, Uraland later in the U.S.S.R. European Region and Extreme
North were on red alert, and the U2 flight was expected. Soon after the plane was
detected, Lieutenant General of the Air Force Yevgeniy Savitskiy ordered the airunit
commanders to attack the violator by all alert flights located in the area of foreign
plane's course.The plane was shot down and kruschev wanted an apology from
The US did this in order to find out more about the soviet unions' Military forces.
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After 1957, tension grew between Russia and America:
- Russia's sputnik satellite (1957) and space orbit (1961) gave them a psychological
- In 1959, the Communist Fidel Castro took power in Cuba, right next to America.
- Communist China accused Khrushchev of going soft; this made him demand that
America withdraw from West Berlin. A Summit was planned for May 1960 to discuss
Berlin and nuclear weapons.
- America feared that Russia was preparing for war.…read more
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What other factors caused superpower relations to deteriorate so
much in the late 50s early 60s?
1) Many events in the late fifties led to greater tension between superpowers, one
of these would be the space race which Russia seemed to be winning. This made
tension grow as the Americans wanted more information causing them to spy on
Russia in the early sixties.…read more