|The United States had, for some time, been conducting high level flights over the Soviet Union. The US was confident that the Soviets had no means to shoot down the U-2, which flew at 100,000 feet. When one of the U-2's did not return from a mission, and the Soviets claimed to have shot it down, the military believed that it could deny responsibility for the U-2, assuming that no one could have survived.
American officials were embarrassed, therefore, when Gary Powers, the pilot of the U-2 in question, was paraded in front of Soviet television cameras. The event took place a short time before a summit was to occur between President Eisenhower and Chairman Kruschev. Kruschev seemed to provide Eisenhower with a way out of the sticky affair by saying that he understood that Eisenhower might not have had knowledge of the U-2 missions.
Eisenhower, however, took complete responsibility for the affair. At the opening of the summit meeting, Kruschev demanded an apology, and when Eisenhower refused to comply, the meeting broke up in disarray.