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Study Notes

Kennan and Novikov Telegrams


Last updated 12 Apr 2018

Suspicions between East and West developed throughout the time in the Grand Alliance. Both sides mistrusted each other and were unsure about the others intentions. With this attitude, both nations diplomats in their embassies to inform on the attitudes of each other. For example, the Soviet Union asked their diplomats in their Washington DC embassy to report on the attitudes of the US Government towards the Soviet Union.

Kennan’s Long Telegram

Kennan was the Ambassador of the United States to the Soviet Union. He had worked for the US State Department for a long time and built his reputation up within the US Government. As such his opinions on the Soviet Union were listened to in Washington.

In his famous Long Telegram, Kennan warned that Stalin wanted to destroy capitalism and reported on Stalin’s paranoia that the west were going to destroy him and the Soviet Union. To complement this, Kennan believed that the US should mount a strong defense against the Soviet Union as this would stop Soviet aggression. This view and telegram contributed towards the development of the US policy of containment.

Novikov Telegram

In a similar fashion to Kennan,  the Soviet had their own telegram. The Soviet telegram was sent by Nikolai Novikov from the Washington embassy. It was the belief of Novikov that the United States no longer wished to work together with the Soviet Union and wished to start a war. This informed much of the protective measures which the Soviet Union placed in Europe.

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