Khrushchev addresses the UN on the U2 spyplane (1960)

In September 1960 Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev addressed the United Nations general assembly, touching briefly on the American U2 spyplane controversy weeks before:

“Our century is the century of the struggle for freedom, the century in which nations are liberating themselves from foreign domination. The peoples desire a worthwhile life and are fighting to secure it. Victory has already been won in many countries and lands. But we cannot rest on our laurels, for we know that tens of millions of human beings are still languishing in colonial slavery and are suffering grave hardships…

We saw a dangerous manifestation of the work of these forces last spring when the aircraft of one of the largest member states of the United Nations, the United States of America, treacherously invaded the airspace of the Soviet Union and that of other states. What is more, the United States has elevated such violations of international law into a principle of deliberate state policy.

The aggressive intrusion into our country by a United States aircraft, and the whole course of the United States government’s subsequent behaviour, showed the peoples that they were dealing with a calculated policy on the part of the United States government, which was trying to substitute brigandage for international law, and treachery for honest negotiations between sovereign and equal states.

The flights by the United States spy aircraft are also instructive in another respect. They have shown up the danger to peace presented by the network of United States bases in which dozens of states in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America are enmeshed. Like a deep-seated form of acute infection in a living organism, these bases disrupt the normal political and economic life of the states upon which they have been foisted. They hinder the establishment of normal relations between those states and their neighbours.

How can there be any question of normal relations if the people of these neighbouring countries cannot sleep peacefully, if they have to live with the threat of being subjected to an annihilating blow whenever the United States militarists take it into their heads to embark on fresh acts of provocation?”