Though Nikita Khrushchev's decisions to establish nuclear weapon launch sites in Cuba may have been influenced by fellow advisors, it was a dreadful mistake on his behalf and his reputation was severely damaged as a result. His scheme to keep up with the USA in the arms race by attempting such a risky operation seemed out of character and proved to be a catastrophic blow to his career. With all his previous successes for the nation of Russia, Khrushchev tested his luck too far in that he under estimated the enemy and did not consider the possible consequences of his actions.
Cuba, situated a mere 200km off the coast of Florida in the United States, was an ideal location for the Russians to establish missile launch sites in their efforts to keep up with their American rivals. In 1959 when Fidel Castro led 800 men into defeating the Cuban governments 30,000-man army, he became premier of Cuba, which led to a decline in relations with the US. President Kennedy would not accept any expansion of communism so close to the US (http://library.thinkquest.org) and therefore, though unsuccessful, attempted to defeat Castro in what was known as the Bay of Pigs invasion. In his early stages of power, Castro searched for an ally and found Russia, who by 1962 began secretly sending nuclear missiles to Cuba. (See Appendix 1) With missiles in such close proximity to major cities in America, Russia believed it would be able to pose a threat to the Americans and also display their power and might to the world.
Khrushchev gave Castro an offer he couldn't refuse in negotiations to form an alliance with Cuba. In return for allowing Russia to build missile silos in Cuba, Castro was offered arms, tanks, aircraft and other means of defence, plus protection from the US and an annual funding of $300,000,000 (Encyclopaedia Britannica 99). The importance to Khrushchev of gaining Cuba's acquaintance is obvious when looking at the generosity the he was