Anatoly Fyodorovich Dobrynin (Russian: Анато́лий Фёдорович Добры́нин, 16 November 1919 – 6 April 2010) was a Soviet statesman, diplomat and politician. He was Soviet Ambassador to the United States for more than two decades, from 1962 to 1986.
He attracted notoriety among the American public during and after the Cuban Missile Crisis at the beginning of his ambassadorship, when he denied the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba although, unbeknownst to him until days later, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev had already sent them and the Americans already had photographs of them. Between 1968 and 1974, he was known as the Soviet end of the Kissinger–Dobrynin direct communication and negotiation link between the American presidency and the Soviet politburo.
Early life and education
Dobrynin was born in the village of Krasnaya Gorka, near Mozhaisk in the Moscow Oblast, on 16 November 1919. His father was a locksmith. He attended the Moscow Aviation Institute and after graduation went to work for the Yakovlev Design Bureau. He entered the Higher Diplomatic School in 1944 and graduated with distinction.
Dobrynin joined the diplomatic service of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1946. He later joined the secretariat of the ministry, working for Vyacheslav Molotov, Dmitri Shepilov, Andrei Gromyko and Valerian Zorin. He was appointed deputy secretary general at the United Nations in 1957 and returned to Moscow as head of the foreign ministry's department of the United States and Canada in 1960. Dobrynin was appointed as Soviet Ambassador to the United States in 1962, and he had been the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps since July 1979. His tenure lasted until 1986.
Anatoly Dobrynin had the unique experience of serving as Soviet Ambassador to the US during the terms of six US Presidents (Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter and Reagan). The Cold War rivalry made his position one of the key elements in Soviet Union–United States relations, such that between the Soviet Ambassador to the United States (in Washington) and the United States Ambassador to the Soviet Union (in Moscow), most diplomatic business channeled through the former. Dobrynin's regular contacts with the US State Department resulted in him being granted his own parking spot in the State Department garage until 1981, when President Reagan revoked that privilege.
Dobrynin developed an especially close relationship with Henry Kissinger, with whom he often met and dined with up to four times a week. They had a direct line to each other's office; they exchanged gifts, shared inside jokes, and even met each other's parents.
In 1971, he was elected to the Central Committee of the Communist Party (CPSU). After his long term as Ambassador to the United States, he returned to Moscow in 1986, joining the Secretariat of the party and leading the international department of the CPSU Central Committee for two years. At the end of 1988, he retired from the Central Committee and served as an advisor to the Soviet Presidency.
He attended the December 1989 Malta Summit that formally marked the end of the Cold War. He was given the honorary rank of Russian Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary in 1992.
Works and death
His book, In Confidence: Moscow's Ambassador to Six Cold War Presidents, was published in 1995. (It was last reprinted in 2001 as ISBN 0-295-98081-8.)
Dobrynin died in Moscow on 6 April 2010. In a telegram to Dobrynin's family, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev paid tribute to Dobrynin, stating:
Anatoly Dobrynin, a talented and memorable figure, professional of the highest calibre and legend of Russian diplomacy has left us. His name is associated with a whole epoch in Russian and global foreign policy.
There can be no overestimating Anatoly Dobrynin’s personal contribution to resolving the Cuban missile crisis and normalising Soviet-American relations.
His outstanding abilities as a negotiator and analyst earned him the respect of both colleagues and opponents, and his goodwill, deep knowledge and wealth of life experience won him the respect and liking of everyone around him.
Honours and awards