Caviar diplomacy refers to a diplomatic practice where luxurious and expensive gifts, such as caviar, are exchanged between countries or diplomats as a means of promoting goodwill and strengthening diplomatic relations. The term is often used in a critical sense, suggesting that such practices are extravagant and wasteful, and may be used to mask underlying political tensions or ulterior motives. Caviar diplomacy has been associated with Cold War-era diplomacy, particularly between the USA and the Soviet Union, but the practice continues to be used in modern diplomatic circles.
Caviar diplomacy was a diplomatic technique used by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin during the Cold War. It involved Stalin sending large amounts of caviar to foreign leaders in an attempt to influence their opinions.
In the late 1940s, Stalin sent a large amount of caviar to a group of journalists and politicians in the USA. This was seen as an attempt to win favour in the USA and influence public opinion. The gesture was apparently well received, as the US government later sent a gift of tobacco in return.
In the 1950s, Stalin also sent a shipment of caviar to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill during a visit to Moscow. This was seen as an attempt to curry favour with the British leader, who was known for his love of the delicacy.
The tactic was not always successful, however. When Stalin sent a shipment of caviar to French President Charles de Gaulle, it was rejected. De Gaulle was known for his dislike of the Soviet leader, and refused the gift.