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The Soviet troops entered the Afghanistan territory

24 December 1979

The main reasons for the Soviet troops entering the Afghanistan were the desire to secure the Southern borders of the USSR and support the pro-Soviet Peoples’ Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) which accessed to power as a result of the April revolution of 1978.

The radicalism of a new Afghan leaders and violent measures that it used trying to build the Afghan socialism in the feudal society resulted in civil war. PDPA was opposed with the coalition of Islamic fundamentalist organizations. In March of 1979 during a revolt in Gerat city occurred the first demand of Afghan leaders regarding the direct military interference in the situation in the country. But it was rejected (in total there were about 20 of such demands).

The mutiny of Gerat forced the USSR to reinforce its troops at the Soviet-Afghanistan border. The further worsening of the situation in Afghanistan and especially the events of September 1979 (the arrest and murder of PDPA leader N. Taraki under the order of H. Amin) obliged the Soviet leadership to solve the Afghan problem by coercive methods.

On December 12, 1979 at the session of Politbureau of the Communist Party Central Committee was decided to bring troops to Afghanistan. The decision had a status of a secret decree of the Communist Party Central Committee N 176/125 “For the situation in “A”.

On December 24, 1979 the military units of the 105th airborne division landed at Bagram airport at 50 km to the north of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan. The Afghan troops were neutralized: under the pretext of armament changing tanks were unfit for action, communication links were blocked, and the commandment of Afghan army was on holiday accompanied with a feast. Within two days, December 25-26, the entire 105th division arrived to Bagram on transport planes.

At the same time the Soviet secret services carried out the operation under the codename “Storm-333”. Its objective was to eliminate physically the Afghanistan leader Hafizulla Amin.

The Soviet troops together with Afghan units and sub-units of the army, Afghanistan Ministry of Domestic Affairs and the security service guarded the airfield, all the main highways, many facilities of the Soviet –Afghanistan economical cooperation where lived and worked the Soviet civil counsellors and experts. The Soviet garrisons supported the Afghanistan governing bodies functioning in different provinces.

One of the main objectives of the Soviet troops was to be engaged together with Afghan units and sub-units in military actions of different scale in order to defeat the most dangerous detachments and groups of the armed opposition as well as to fight caravans supplying arms and ammunition to Afghanistan from Pakistan and Iran.

The operation on “providing international assistance to Afghan people” was going on in conditions of strict secrecy. Since officially the Soviet Union was not in a state of war, the citizens of the country were not informed of the situation. The killed soldiers arrived home in closed coffins and their relatives were not allowed to disclose any information regarding the reasons and the place of death.

The entering of troops in Afghanistan had quite a negative reflection on the international situation of the USSR. The country practically found itself in a partial isolation. For instance, most of the countries refused to participate in the Olympic Games taking place in 1980 in Moscow.

On April 14, 1988 was adopted the mutual Soviet-American agreement “On cooperation to regulate the situation in Afghanistan”. The agreement established the deadline for withdrawal of the Soviet troops from the country: half of the limited contingent had to leave Afghanistan by August 15, 1988, the rest of the units - six months later.

On February 15, 1989 the Soviet troops withdrew from Afghanistan. According to various estimates the Soviet Union lost about 15 thousand men killed during the armed conflict.

Lit.: Ввод советских войск в Афганистан. Декабря 1979 [Электронный ресурс] // Российское военно-историческое общество. Б. д. URL: https://histrf.ru/lenta-vremeni/event/view/vvod-sovietskikh-voisk-v-afghanistanВо имя высокой цели. Л., 1988; Грешнов А. Б. «Афганистан: заложники времени». М., 2006; Иванов Н. Ф. Операцию «Шторм» начать раньше... М., 1993; Костыря А. А. Историография, источниковедение, библиография спецоперации СССР в Афганистане (1979-1989 гг.): монография. 2-е изд., доп. и испр. Донецк, 2009; Ляховский А. А., Забродин В. М. Тайны афганской войны. М., 1991.