Dobrynin joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs as assistant chief of the Education Department while also serving as an assistant professor of U.S. foreign policy at the Institute of International Relations. From 1947 to 1952 he worked on the staff of Deputy Foreign Minister Valerian Zorin, ultimately becoming his first assistant. Dobrynin was posted to Washington as counselor at the Soviet embassy in 1952 and served as minister-counselor from 1954 to 1955. Returning to Moscow in 1955, he was promoted to the rank of ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary in the Foreign Ministry before becoming an assistant to Foreign Minister Dmitri T. Shepilov. In 1957, Dobrynin was posted to the United Nations (UN) Secretariat as an undersecretary-general, becoming director of the Department of Political and Security Council Affairs the next year.
In February 1960 Dobrynin was recalled to Moscow to head the Foreign Ministry's American Department, where he served until January 1962. He returned to the UN briefly in the summer of 1960 to help Foreign Minister Andrey Gromyko lodge complaints regarding American U-2 overflights of the Soviet Union. In January 1962 Dobrynin was appointed Soviet ambassador to the United States. He presented his credentials to President John F. Kennedy on 31 March. Dobrynin served in this post until 1986, playing a critical role in the Cold War era and in almost every aspect of Soviet-American relations. His private discussions with U.S. Attorney-General Robert F. Kennedy were instrumental to the peaceful resolution of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. During Richard Nixon's presidency, Dobrynin worked with National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger to resolve disputes in the SALT I negotiations and became an informal channel for American communications with North Vietnam leading to the Paris Peace Talks. During the presidencies of Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Dobrynin provided a degree of stability in the deteriorating Soviet-American relationship that followed the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Dobrynin became a candidate member of the CPSU Central Committee in 1966 and a full member in 1977. In March 1986, new Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev recalled Dobrynin to join the CPSU Central Committee as secretary for foreign affairs and head of the International Department. He was also elected a deputy to the Supreme Soviet, serving until 1989. Dobrynin retired from the Central Committee in 1988 but continued to serve as a foreign policy advisor to Gorbachev until the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991. Beginning in 1995, Dobrynin became a consultant to the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Steven W. Guerrier
Dobrynin, Anatoly. In Confidence: Moscow's Ambassador to America's Six Cold War Presidents, 1962–1986. New York: Times Books, 1995.; Friedman, Norman. The Fifty Year War: Conflict and Strategy in the Cold War. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2000.; Gelman, Harry. The Brezhnev Politburo and the Decline of Détente. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1984.