Semantron 23 Summer 2023

Soviet intervention in Afghanistan

Federation voted to deem the Afghan war a decision justified by international law and the strong and friendly relationship between the then Soviet Union and the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan. 25

The Afghan legacy played a significant role in Moscow’s approach to the first Chechen War (1994 - 1996). Heavy losses and a lack of public support prompted then President Boris Yeltsin to declare a ceasefire. The wounds of Afghanistan were still fresh, and the Russian government feared repeating the same mistake. This was in marked contrast to the second Chechen War (1999-2009). Newly appointed President Vladimir Putin used the pretext of Chechen separatism, including incursions into Dagestan and terrorist bombing campaigns, to garner public support for an operation to crush Chechen militants with overwhelming force. Initial military success allowed the creation of a new Chechen constitution in 2003, granting the Chechen Republic a degree of autonomy but allowing Moscow to install a government of Russian-backed Chechen loyalists and devolve to them responsibility for the subsequent counterinsurgency effort. Russian incursions into Georgia, Syria and Ukraine have followed since, and help to explain the attempt to rewrite history implicit in the 2018 Duma resolution. However, it remains to be seen whether these latest Russian efforts to expand their power and influence will be successful.


Primary sources TASS News Agency, ‘Condemnation of sending Soviet troops to Afghanistan unfair - Russian State Duma’, 22 November 2018. Manuscripts Hawkins, Major Brian C., ‘Soviet counterinsurgency operations in Afghanistan (1979 - 1988)’, thesis for Master of Military Studies degree, United States Marine Corps, Command and Staff College, Marine Corps University, April 2010. Secondary sources Braithwaite, Rodric, Afgantsy: the Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 , Profile Books, London, 2011. Dimitrakis, Panagiotis, ‘The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan: International Reactions, Military Intelligence and British Diplomacy’, Middle Eastern Studies, 48, no. 4, 2012, 511-536. Galleoti, Mark, Afghanistan: The Soviet Union’s Last War , Frank Cass, London, 1995. Gibbs, David N. ‘Afghanistan: The Soviet Invasion in Retrospect’, International Politics, 37, no. 2, June 2000, 233-246. Gompert, David C., Binnendijk, Hans, and Lin, Bonny, Blinders, Blunders, and Wars: What America and China Can Learn , Rand Corporation, Santa Monica, 2014. Grau, Lester W. and Gress, Michael A., The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost: the Russian General Staff , University Press of Kansas, 2002. Khalilza d, Zalmay, ‘Afghanistan: Anatomy of a Soviet Failure’, The National Interest , no. 12, Summer 1988, 101-108. Robinson, Paul, and Dixon, Jay, ‘Soviet Development Theory and Economic and Technical Assistance to Afghanistan, 1954 –1991’, The Historian 72 , no. 3, 2010, 599 – 623.

25 TASS News Agency, ‘Condemnation of sending Soviet troops to Afghanistan unfair - Russian State Duma’, 22 November 2018.


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