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Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-1989 by Rodric Braithwaite

By Rodric Braithwaite

The tale of the Soviet profession of Afghanistan is widely known: the expansionist Communists crushed a negative kingdom as a method of achieving a warm-water port at the Persian Gulf. Afghan mujahideen disenchanted their plans, protecting on with little greater than usual scuffling with abilities, until eventually CIA brokers got here to the rescue with American fingers. Humiliated in conflict, the Soviets rapidly retreated. it is a nice tale, writes Rodric Braithwaite. however it by no means occurred. The Russian conscripts suffered badly from mismanagement and strategic mistakes, yet they have been by no means defeated at the battlefield, and withdrew in stable order. during this impressive, myth-busting account, Braithwaite--the former British ambassador to Moscow--challenges a lot of what we all know in regards to the Soviets in Afghanistan. He offers an within examine this little-understood episode, utilizing first-hand money owed and piercing research to teach the struggle because it used to be fought and skilled via the Russians. The invasion, he writes, used to be a shielding reaction to a chaotic state of affairs within the Soviets' quick neighbor. They meant to set up a strong, pleasant govt, safe the key cities, and educate the police and army ahead of creating a speedy go out. however the undertaking escalated, as did casualties. in reality, the Soviet management made up our minds to tug out a 12 months sooner than the 1st Stinger missile was once utilized in strive against. Braithwaite doesn't, after all, paint the career as a Russian triumph. on the contrary, he illustrates the searing impact of the brutal clash on squaddies, their households, and the wider public, as returning veterans--the Afgansty of the title--struggled to regain their footing again domestic. a superb author in addition to knowledgeable, Braithwaite includes readers via those complicated and momentous occasions, taking pictures these violent and tragic days as not anyone has performed earlier than.

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Extra resources for Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan, 1979-1989

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After a good deal of further fighting elsewhere in Kabul, resistance had ceased by the following morning. Power passed to the PDPA at the cost of forty-three dead among the military and others among the civilian population. One of those wounded was Mohamed Gulabzoi. It was the bloodiest so far of the twentieth-century changes of power in Afghanistan. Though the Soviets have been accused of standing behind the coup, it is not clear how much if anything they knew about it. Despite their worries about Daud’s flirtations with the West, the Soviets’ policy of friendship with the Afghan government currently in power had paid off in the past, and there was no particular reason to assume that it could not be satisfactorily managed in the future.

4 Their expansion was not unopposed. They clashed with the Turkish and Persian empires, and soon came to see the less sophisticated states of Central Asia as a threat, an opportunity, and a barrier to any ambitions they had towards Afghanistan and the riches of India beyond. Peter the Great’s imagination was fired by reports of gold to be found along the Amu Darya, the river which was eventually to become the boundary between Afghanistan and Russia. The local ruler, the Khan of Khiva, was said to be willing to become Peter’s vassal in exchange for Russian protection from his rebellious subjects.

He denounced the previous decade as a period of ‘false democracy’ and promised ‘revolutionary reforms’. His new government contained members of the PDPA. More forceful than Zahir, Daud ruled with a rod of iron. The freedom of the parties and the students was curtailed. A former prime minister died mysteriously in prison. There were hundreds of arrests and five political executions, the first in more than forty years. In 1977 Daud pushed through a new constitution which turned Afghanistan into a presidential one-party state, in which only his own party, the National Revolutionary Party, was allowed to operate.

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