Soviet diplomatic note on the U2 incident (1960)

On May 10th 1960, the Soviet government in Moscow sent the following diplomatic note to the US government, in relation to the U2 incident and Washington’s initial statements:

“The government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics considers it necessary to state the following to the government of the United States of America.

On May 1st of this year at 5.36am Moscow time, a military aircraft violated the boundary of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and intruded across the borders of the Soviet Union for a distance of more than 2,000 kilometres. The government of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics naturally could not leave unpunished such a flagrant violation of Soviet state boundaries. When the intentions of the violating aircraft became apparent, it was shot down by Soviet rocket troops in the area of Sverdlovsk.

Upon examination by experts of all data at the disposal of the Soviet side, it was incontrovertibly established that the intruder aircraft belonged to the United States of America, was permanently based in Turkey and was sent through Pakistan into the Soviet Union with hostile purposes… Exact data from the investigation leave no doubts with respect to the purpose of the flight of the American aircraft which violated the USSR border on May 1st.

This aircraft was specially equipped for reconnaissance and diversionary flight over the territory of the Soviet Union. It had on board apparatus for aerial photography for detecting the Soviet radar network and other special radio-technical equipment which form part of USSR anti-aircraft defences. At the disposal of the Soviet expert commission which carried out the investigation, there is indisputable proof of the espionage- reconnaissance mission of the American aircraft: films of Soviet defence and industrial establishments, a tape recording of signals of Soviet radar stations and other data.

Pilot Powers, about whose fate the Embassy of the United States of America inquired in its note of May 6th, is alive and… will be brought to account under the laws of the Soviet state. The pilot has indicated that he did everything in full accordance with the assignment given him…

This, and other information revealed in speeches of the head of the Soviet government, completely refuted the US State Department’s concocted and hurriedly fabricated version, released May 5th in the official announcement for the press, to the effect that the aircraft was allegedly carrying out meteorological observations in the upper strata of the atmosphere along the Turkish-Soviet border.

After the complete absurdity of the aforementioned version had been shown and it had been incontrovertibly proven that the American aircraft intruded across the borders of the Soviet Union for aggressive reconnaissance purposes, a new announcement was made by the US State Department on May 7th which contained the forced admission that the aircraft was sent into the Soviet Union for military reconnaissance and, by the very fact, it was admitted that the flight was pursuing aggressive purposes. In this way, after two days, the State Department already had to deny the version which obviously had been intended to mislead world public opinion as well as American public opinion itself.

The State Department considered it appropriate to refer in its announcement to the “open skies” proposal made by the Government of the United States of America in 1955 and to the refusal of the Soviet Government to accept this proposal. Yes, the Soviet Government, like the governments of many other states, refused to accept this proposal which was intended to throw open the doors of other nations to American reconnaissance. The activities of American aviation only confirm the correctness of the evaluation given to this proposal at the time by the Soviet government…

One must ask, how is it possible to reconcile this with declarations on the part of leading figures of the United States of America, that the government of the United States of America, like the Soviet Government, also strives for improvement of relations, for relaxation of international tension, and strengthening of trust between states. Military intelligence activities of one nation by means of intrusion of its aircraft into the area of another country can hardly be called a method for improving relations and strengthening trust…

The Soviet Government would sincerely like to hope that the government of the United States of America recognises in the final analysis that the interests of preserving and strengthening peace among peoples, including the interests of the American people itself… would be served by cessation of the aforementioned dangerous provocative activities with regard to the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, by cessation of the “cold war,” and by a search through of joint efforts with the Soviet Union and with other interested states for solution of unsettled international problems, on a mutually acceptable basis, which is awaited by all peoples.”