Artemy Kalinovsky

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A convoy of Soviet armored personal vehicles crossed a bridge in Termez, during the withdrawal of the Red Army from Afghanistan in 1988. Credit Vitaly Armand/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

On Feb. 15, 1989, a column of Soviet armored vehicles crossed the Friendship Bridge from Afghanistan into the Soviet Socialist Republic of Uzbekistan. In a theatrical gesture, Lt. Gen. Boris Gromov, who was overseeing the withdrawal, dismounted and walked the final few feet to Soviet soil. There was not a single Soviet soldier left in Afghanistan, General Gromov told waiting journalists.

Since the first troops crossed into Afghanistan in December 1979, the Soviet Union had tried to help the socialist government in Kabul fight off a constellation of insurgents, the most impressive of whom received aid from the United States and Saudi Arabia, working through Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence.…  Seguir leyendo »

Twenty years ago, the Soviet Union’s client regime in Afghanistan was starting to unravel.

For two years, Mohammed Najibullah, the latest leader the Soviets had helped install, had been trying to keep his country together without the Soviet 40th Army — relying on a combination of crack troops, Soviet weaponry, patronage, and the divisions and overconfidence of his enemies. His tenacity had even impressed President George H.W. Bush, who in mid-1990 told U.N. Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar that “I was dead wrong about Najibullah; I thought he would fall when the Soviet troops withdrew”. But with the Soviet Union itself crumbling and crucial financial support for Kabul drying up, Afghanistan’s prospects of emerging as a semblance of a stable state were beginning to look hopeless.…  Seguir leyendo »