MOSCOW, September 3 (RIA Novosti) - On September 2, 1962, Cuba and the USSR signed an agreement on Soviet military assistance to Cuba, including the provision of heavy military equipment and a large number of Soviet military personnel.
The personnel, numbering over 32,000, assisted in the training of Cuban military officers. The agreement further strengthened ties between Cuba and the USSR, which had earlier signed a number of agreements facilitating cultural exchanges, economic assistance, and assistance in the education of Cuban workers.
The existence of these personnel on the island would play a critical role in escalating tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union in October 1962, when American generals proposed to bomb Cuba to get rid of the Soviet nuclear missiles stationed there. This would have put Soviet officers at risk, something Kennedy administration officials feared could lead to the crisis escalating into a full-scale war.
Soviet military assistance to Cuba had begun at the end of 1960, when a small number of Soviet military equipment; small parties had begun arriving on the island. In September of 1962, the political directive of the Soviet army and navy described the Soviet forces stationed in Cuba as volunteers, ‘ready to defend the young Cuban republic’.
The famous decision to send nuclear missiles to Cuba had been agreed upon earlier, in June 1962, and was presented as a way of defending Cuba from American military intervention, while simultaneously improving the Soviet strategic position, given American nuclear superiority and the presence of US nuclear missiles in Turkey.
With direct military conflict avoided and the return of Soviet missiles to the Soviet Union, about one thousand officers and soldiers would remain in Cuba after 1962 to continue to train the Cuban armed forces and to create schools and institutes for this purpose. After 1963, thousands of Cuban officers would begin to travel to the Soviet Union for training.