A spy changed the course of the Cold War and saved the world from World War III

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During the month of October 1962, the world closely followed the developments of the Cuban missile crisis, which nearly caused the outbreak of World War III. After an American spy plane revealed the presence of Soviet missile platforms under construction on the island of Cuba, which was about 500 km from the city of Miami, tension increased between the Soviet Union and the United States of America, whose cities became within the range of Soviet missiles.

A picture of one of the Soviet missiles of the last century

A picture of one of the Soviet missiles of the last century

Despite the end of the crisis through a Soviet-American understanding, Colonel in Soviet Military Intelligence Oleg Penkovsky played an important role in saving the United States of America, as the latter intervened to leak sensitive information that contributed to avoiding dire consequences.

Break away from the Soviet Union

In addition, Penkovsky, born on April 23, 1919 in the Russian city of Vladikavkaz, joined the Red Army in 1937 and worked as an artillery officer during World War II, during which he was wounded in 1944. With the end of the global conflict, Oleg Penkovsky joined the Military Academy Between 1945 and 1948. In 1949, the latter moved to the Military Intelligence Service and was sent to the Diplomatic Academy for the period between 1949 and 1953.

Benkovsky's photo

Benkovsky’s photo

With the beginning of his intelligence work, Oleg Penkovsky was assigned to Moscow, where he was assigned simple tasks before being promoted in 1960 to become a colonel, charged with tasks related to espionage and collecting information on scientific and technical programs for Britain and the United States of America.

A picture of a Soviet missile in Cuba

A picture of a Soviet missile in Cuba

Under Nikita Khrushchev’s administration, Oleg Benkovsky lost faith in the Soviet system. With the help of a British businessman, Benkovsky decided in 1961 to defect from the KGB, offering his services to the British and Americans.

Photo of one of Benkovsky's documents

Photo of one of Benkovsky’s documents

Sensitive information and execution

Between April 1961 and August 1962, Benkovsky transferred about 5,000 classified documents to the British and Americans. These documents contained sensitive information in the Soviet military, economic and political spheres. These documents came at the time to confirm the delay of the Soviet nuclear program compared to its American counterpart and the superiority of the Americans in the field of long-range missiles.

Although CIA officials distrusted him, Oleg Benkovsky provided other sensitive information. The latter briefed the Americans about the secret Soviet military presence in Cuba and pinpointed the exact locations of Soviet missile launchers on the island of Cuba.

Thanks to this sensitive information, Benkovsky changed the course of the Cold War, as this military intelligence officer provided important data to US President John F. Kennedy just days before the completion of the transfer and concentration of Soviet missiles in Cuba.

With the determination of the locations of the Soviet missile platforms in Cuba and the assertion of the superiority of the US nuclear and missile program over its Soviet counterpart, Nikita Khrushchev lost the advantage in the negotiations and accepted the understanding presented to him.

During October 1962, the Soviet authorities arrested Penkovsky, who appeared in court by May of the following year on charges of treason. Subsequently, Penkovsky was sentenced to death and carried out on the 16th of the same month.





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