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Washington-Moscow Hoteline →
Worldwide bilateral hotlines

Hotlines between nations provide a secure and reliable means of communication in case of a (potential) crisis. The most famous one is the Washington-Moscow Hotline of 1963, which was a teleprinter link and, contrary to popular believe, never had red telephone sets. In addition to this, there are several other high- and lower-level communication channels between nations that should reduce tension and the risk of a (nuclear) war, some of which are highlighted below [1].

Top-level lines
The diagram below shows the major top-level hotlines in the world, of which the triangle USA - Russia - China is arguably the most important one. These hotlines are for direct use by heads of states and should help to avoid a (nuclear) war in times of severe crisis. Most of these hotlines were initially (cryptographically secured) teleprinter lines that were later replaced by computers, except for the Washington-London SIGSALY telephone line of 1943. The most famous one is the Washington-Moscow Hotline that was established in 1963 shortly after the 1962 Cuba crisis.

Hotlines between presidents and/or prime ministers

  USA Russia China India
  Russia USA Russia USA
  China China USA Pakistan
  India UK
  UK Germany
  Germany France

Lower-level lines
US Defense Telephone Link   DTL
In addition to the presidential hotlines (above), the ministry of defense of the United States has its own lower-level telephone network that can be used in less critical situation to prevent mis­understandings between countries. This network is known as the Defense Telephone Link (DTL).

US Defense Telephone Link

  • Albania
  • Austria
  • Bahrain
  • Bulgaria
  • China
  • Czech Republic
  • Estonia
  • Israel
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kuwait
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Macedonia
  • Oman
  • Poland
  • Qatar
  • Romania
  • Russia
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • UAE
  • Ukraine
Nuclear Risk Reduction Center   NRRC
The Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (NRRC) was founded in 1987 by an agreement between the American Secretary of State and the Soviet Foreign Minister. Its purpose was to create an extra communication channel for the prevention of nuclear war, in addition to the Washington-Moscow Hotline and the regular diplomatic channels. The NRRC began operations on 1 April 1988 and is online 24 hours a day, relaying information about the arms activities of both nations [2].

Today, the NRRC is part of the US Department of State in Washington and the Russian Ministry of Defense in Moscow. In 2013, the scope of the NRRC was expanded to included messages and inquiries regarding cybersecurity incidents. On 31 October 2016, the Americans used the NRRC channel to demand an end to the Russian interference with the US Presidential election [3][4].

Nuclear Risk Reduction Center

  • USA
  • Russia
  • Belarus
  • Ukraine
  • Kazakhstan
Cybersecurity Link
The Cybersecurity communications link is a bilateral intrument of the United States and Russia, allowing the exchange of information about cybersecurity incidents. It was established after the 39th G8 summit of 17 June 2013, as part of a series of Confidence Building Measures (CBMs), and was intended to reduce the danger from cyber seurity threats that appeared to originate in both countries. The operation and maintenance of the Cybersecurity Link was delegated to the NRRC.

US Foreign Affairs Link   FAL
In addition to the US Ministry of Defense, the Department of State operates its own secured communicatation lines for foreign affairs, known as the Foreign Affairs Link (FAL). It is a secure telephone line betwen the US and Russia, and, since 1999, Japan, Israel, Germany and Mexico [1].

US Foreign Affairs Link

  • Russia
  • Japan
  • Israel
  • Germany
  • Mexico
Ministerial hotlines
In addition to the hotlines listed above, there are several further direct communication lines between countries, intended for direct use by the ministers of these countries. Some of these lines are cryptographically secured but some are unencrypted. For more information see [1].

Ministerial hotlines

  1. Peter Koop, Bilateral Hotlines Worldwide
    Electrospaces, 26 November 2012.

  2. Wikipedia, Nuclear Risk Reduction Center
    Visited 6 August 2022.

  3. Andrew McClure, The U.S. Response to Russian Pre-Election Meddling: An Overview
    Lawfare, 19 December 2016. (via Wayback Machine)

  4. David Ignatius, In our new Cold War, deterrence should come before detente
    The Washington Post, 15 November 2016.
Further information
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Crypto Museum. Created: Friday 05 August 2022. Last changed: Saturday, 06 August 2022 - 09:49 CET.
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