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Soviet forces withdrawal from Afghanistan

15 February 1989

The Soviet forces were brought into Afghanistan on December 24, 1979. This move was considered by the Soviet leaders as a short-term measure intended to secure the southern borders of the USSR. That is why already one month later was brought up the question on the withdrawal of the limited contingent from the Afghanistan territory. However due to a complex situation in the republic and the change of political leaders in the USSR the problem solving had been constantly postponed.

On April 14, 1988 in Geneva the representatives of Afghanistan republic, Islamic republic of Pakistan, USSR and USA signed five fundamental documents regarding the issues of regulating the political situation near Afghanistan. These agreements regulated the withdrawal of the Soviet forces and declared the international guarantees on non-interference into the republic affairs. The USSR and USA undertook these commitments. The deadline for the Soviet forces’ withdrawal was determined: a half of the limited contingent had to leave Afghanistan by August 15, 1988; the rest of the units – six months after that.

At 10:30 a.m. of February 15, 1989 the commander of the 40th army, major general Boris Gromov crossed the bridge over Amudaria river dividing the two states near the town of Termez. He was the last soldier of the Soviet forces to leave the territory. Thus the withdrawal of the Soviet troops having spent over 10 years in the territory of Afghanistan was completed.

The operation on ‘the international assistance to Afghanistan people’ turned out to become a tragic page in our national history. Totally during the armed conflict the Soviet Union lost about 15 thousand soldiers and officers. At least 100 thousand Afghans were killed. Tens of thousands persons from both sides became invalids. 274 persons are still considered missing. Over 600 thousand of military personnel had served in Afghanistan as a part of the limited contingent along with 21 thousand workers and employees who had occupied civilian positions in Afghanistan.

For the successful fulfillment of the military commandment orders from January 1980 to February 1989 205.863 persons were given the state awards, 73 servicemen were granted the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union.

Discussion regarding what reasons had the USSR to intervene into the domestic affairs of Afghanistan and the reasonability of this move still continues. Some of the experts believe that it was necessary to bring the troops in Afghanistan; otherwise this country bordering upon three Soviet republics could be uses as a place of arms against the Soviet Union. There is still no single opinion on the Soviet contingent withdrawal because the conflict in the republic is still to be regulated. It is obvious that in addition to great human losses the war in Afghanistan had provoked the aggravation of the international situation; impeded the negotiations regarding the reduction in armaments and shortened the time for economical and political crisis in the USSR and its collapse.

Lit.: Афганская война 1979–1989: сервер. Б. д. URL: http://www.afgan.ru/; Грешнов А. Б. Афганистан: заложники времени [Электронный ресурс] // История афганских войн. Б. д. URL: http://www.artofwar.net.ru/profiles/greshnov_andrei_b/view_book/afganistan_zalojniki_vremeni; Костыря А. А. Историография, источниковедение, библиография спецоперации СССР в Афганистане (1979-1989 гг.). Донецк, 2009; О мероприятиях в связи с предстоящим выводом советских войск из Афганистана [Электронный ресурс] // Холодная война. 2000-2009. URL: http://www.coldwar.ru/conflicts/afgan/vivod.php; Смирнов С. А. Афганистан: страницы истории (к 12-й годовщине вывода советских войск из Афганистана);// Дипломатический вестник. 2001. № 3; Хроника Афганской войны [Электронный ресурс] // Борисоглебское высшее военное авиационное ордена Ленина Краснознамённое училище лётчиков им. В. П. Чкалова. Б. д. URL: http://www.bvvaul.ru/content/history/museum/afgan.php.

From the Presidential library materials:

Государственная Дума: День памяти о россиянах, исполнявших служебный долг за пределами Отечества будет отмечаться 15 февраля // Новости. 22 октября 2009 г.