Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Zorin, Valerian Aleksandrovich (1902–1986)

Soviet diplomat. Born in Novocherkassk in the Rostov Oblast on 14 January 1902, Valerian Zorin joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) in 1922. Following a decade in various party posts, he attended the Higher Communist Institute of Education, graduating in 1935. He taught and served as a party official in several posts until joining the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs in 1941. He served as assistant secretary-general during 1941–1942, deputy commissar during 1942–1943, and head of the Fourth (Central European) Department during 1943–1945.

In March 1945, Zorin was appointed Soviet ambassador to Czechoslovakia, where he served until the spring of 1947. He then served as Soviet representative to the United Nations (UN) Economic Commission for Europe and later served on the Soviet delegation to the UN before returning to Moscow in November 1947 as deputy foreign minister, a post he held until 1955. He was dispatched to Prague to help oversee the February 1948 coup that installed a communist government.

From October 1952 to April 1953, Zorin was Soviet ambassador to the UN while retaining his foreign ministry post. In 1955 he was named Soviet ambassador to the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG, West Germany) before returning as deputy foreign minister the following year. Remaining in this post until 1965, he also served once again as Soviet ambassador to the UN from 1960 to 1963. During this appointment, he was involved in a now-famous exchange with U.S. ambassador to the UN Adlai Stevenson at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962. In 1965, Zorin was named Soviet ambassador to France, where he served until his retirement in 1971. In retirement, he served occasionally as an ambassador-at-large with responsibility for human rights issues. Elected a candidate member of the CPSU Central Committee in 1956, he became a full member in 1965. He died in Moscow on 14 January 1986.

Steven W. Guerrier


Further Reading
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.
 

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