The history of international relations in the second half of the 20th century can rightly be called a “test laboratory” of the national foreign policy elites of the Soviet Union and the United States. This experience was formed not only in the course of a desk search in various departments of the optimal strategy to respond to a crisis, but also in the course of direct improvisation in crisis situations — when the world was on the verge of destruction. If we hope to avoid spontaneous military escalation, familiarity with such experience is now more important than ever.
During several milestone crises between the USSR and the West, the elites came to realise that the world cannot commit collective suicide. The Berlin and Caribbean crises, as well as the Cuban Missile Crisis of the 1980s, when the opposing sides faced the real possibility of World War III, can be cited as the most striking examples shaping the Soviet-American response experience. Today, historians unfairly overlook the Suez Crisis. Its key significance lies in the fact that following its conclusion, Great Britain and France ceased to exist as great powers. The history of bipolar confrontation is not only a conflict between the USSR and the USA. Already in the 1950s, the Soviet-Chinese alliance showed its first cracks, gradually transforming it into a confrontation.Hero of the Soviet Union, Major General Vitaly Bubenin recalled
:“We were preparing for the invasion of our territory.” And already in 1969, for the first time in history, the two nuclear powers clashed on Damansky Island, and for the first time since 1941, Soviet border guards entered into battle with the regular army of a neighbouring country.