August 28, 2013

The 50th anniversary of the Washington-Moscow Hotline

(Updated: September 16, 2013)

This Friday, August 30, it's exactly 50 years ago that a direct communication link between the United States and Russia became operational. This Washington-Moscow Hotline is one of the most famous top level communications systems in modern history.

Many people think the Washington-Moscow Hotline uses red phone sets, but that's a myth. The Hotline never was a telephone line as it started with teletype terminals, later replaced by facsimile equipment. Since 2008 the Hotline uses secure e-mail, as can be seen in this most recent picture of the Hotline terminal in the Pentagon:

The Washington-Moscow Hotline terminal room at the Pentagon, 2013
Presidential communicator Navy Chief Petty Officer John E. Kelley (seated) and
senior presidential translator Lt. Col. Charles Cox man the hotline terminal

For the full history and more unique historical pictures of the Hotline, see our updated story from last year: The Washington-Moscow Hotline

A small event to celebrate the 50th anniversary will be held this Thursday, August 29, at Fort Detrick in Maryland, where the satellite ground station of the American end of the Hotline is situated. The event includes as guest speakers: the former American ambassador, Jack Foust Matlock, Jr. and a son of the former Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Dr. Sergei Khrushchev.

An entirely edible, satellite dish-shaped cake
to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Hotline
(photo: USAG VI)

There seems to be no commemoration involving the American and Russian presidents. Maybe this is due to the fact that the relationship between both countries has troubled after Edward Snowden, who leaked many top secret documents from the NSA, was granted asylum in Russia recently.

Some articles about the 50th anniversary of the Hotline:
- World Leader Hotline At Fort Detrick Celebrates 50 Years
- Hotline, now 50 years old, continues to promote dialog with Russians
- 50 years later, hotline to Washington-Moscow hotline still relevant
- RussianReport: Washington – Moscow “hotline” turns 50 years old this month
- "Горячая линия" связи между Москвой и Вашингтоном отметила полувековой юбилей
- На связи – Белый дом


Anonymous said...

meanwhile read your article
hotline, wondering you did
know the date, regards TK

Dirk Rijmenants said...


Bedankt om ons te wijzen op deze historische verjaardag. De hotline is een van dé iconen uit de Koude Oorlog die gelukke overeind gebleven is (de Hotlin) niet de oorlog. Keep it coming!



In Dutch: Meer over het wetsvoorstel voor de Tijdelijke wet cyberoperaties