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The tragedy and valor of Afghan - 8- Brezhnev decides to save the "people's" power

Major General Alexander Antonovich Lyakhovsky

The tragedy and valor of Afghan

L. Brezhnev decides to save the "people's" power

As can be seen from the documents cited, the decision to bring in Soviet troops was not made immediately, but after long deliberation and analysis of the current situation.

After the coming to power of Kh. Amin and the murder of N. Taraki by him, as already noted, the Soviet leadership faced a problem - what to do next? Taking into account the long-term interests of the Soviet Union, it was found expedient not to abruptly break off relations with Afghanistan, but to act in accordance with the situation in that country. However, the members of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU were particularly concerned about the information that began to flow through the KGB of the USSR in October-November 1979 that H. Amin was studying the possibility of a certain reorientation of his policy towards the United States and China. For example, on September 27, Amin appealed to the chief American attorney in Kabul with an appeal for better relations, and two days later in New York, Afghan Foreign Minister Sh. Wali expressed the same feelings to US officials David Newsom and Harold Saunders. A version appeared about the involvement of X.

At the same time, the opponents of Kh. Amin, both from among the Parchamists and Khalqists, through their own channels began to appeal to the leadership of the CPSU with concern for the fate of the “people's democratic regime”. They warned of the threat of massacres in the country and pointed out that the reckless actions of the General Secretary of the PDPA Central Committee could lead to the complete physical extermination of "the national-patriotic and progressive forces of Afghanistan." Playing on the contradictions between the USSR and the USA, they declared that it was not only about saving the cause of the revolution, but also about preserving the DRA as a sovereign, “non-aligned state” friendly to the Soviet Union (since power in the country could pass into the hands of the most conservative forces, closely associated with Pakistan, the United States, orthodox Muslim regimes). In fact, the party members from Parcham themselves were eager for power,

Prominent party leaders of both PDPA factions in exile created illegal structures in the DRA, secretly began to return their cadres to Afghanistan and began planning and preparing decisive actions against the group of H. Amin. But since there was no certainty that these forces could independently raise an armed uprising, the "emigrants" also pinned their main hopes on Soviet military assistance. And in Afghanistan itself, by December 1979, a dramatic military-political situation had developed. Terror and violence raged in the country, in fact, a civil war began.

S. F. Akhromeev later recalled: “The three of us came to the minister: N. Ogarkov, myself and V. Varennikov, who was then the chief of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces. They told him that in such a grouping (75 thousand people, four divisions, aviation and support units. - Author's note), the troops would not solve any problem in Afghanistan. And there are no other troops. It was then that they said that the problems cannot be solved there by military means. "Can you stabilize the regime?" The minister asked. We replied that, obviously, if our troops enter, stand up in Kabul, Herat, Kandahar, Jalalabad, it will be possible to stabilize the regime ... ”As can be seen from the story, objections to the introduction of troops were expressed to DF Ustinov delicately and ambiguously. Dissent at that time was severely punished.

According to Soviet analysts of that time, the events in the DRA became part of the world revolutionary process. And the leadership of the USSR was advised not to allow the export of counter-revolution. This was in tune with the mood of the Soviet leaders. After all, the opportunity for them to have a reliable ally connected with the Soviet Union by a common ideology and interests turned out to be too tempting for them. Apparently, that is why they ultimately took such a difficult step, although they themselves did not figure it out to the end: what kind of revolution were they going to defend?

Gradually, the idea appeared to create conditions for the elimination of Amin and his replacement with a more loyal leader. At that time, the leader of the Parcham faction was in Moscow, who had illegally arrived from Czechoslovakia and since August 1978 lived in the USSR as an emigrant. Taking into account the fact that B. Karmal, according to experts, enjoyed the support of a certain part of the Afghan party members (in fact, as it turned out later, there was no such support or it was insignificant), he was asked to lead the struggle to overthrow the regime of H. Amin ... To which he agreed and immediately fell under the tutelage of the KGB of the USSR.

... After the completion of the training of the "Muslim" battalion, Colonel V.V. All officers and soldiers of the battalion were dressed in Afghan military uniforms and outwardly did not differ much from the local military personnel. This uniform was made according to samples sent from Afghanistan by military intelligence.

For a month, the special forces were engaged in combat and special training at the airfield and were preparing to move to Kabul. Officially, retroactively, on December 6, they issued this promotion.


Top secret

Special folder

T.t. Brezhnev, Andropov, Gromyko, Suslov, Ustinov

Extract from Minutes No. 176 of the meeting of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee dated December 6. 1979 year.

About the direction of the special squad to Afghanistan

Agree with the proposals on this issue, set out in the note of the KGB of the USSR and the Ministry of Defense of December 4, 1979 No. 312/2/0073 (attached)

Secretary of the Central Committee L. Brezhnev.


Top secret

Special folder

Central Committee of the CPSU

Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the PDPA and Prime Minister of the DRA, X. Amin, has recently been persistently raising the question of the need to send a Soviet motorized rifle battalion to Kabul to guard his residence.

Taking into account the current situation and the request of H. Amin, we consider it expedient to send to Afghanistan a detachment of the GRU of the General Staff with a total strength of about 500 people prepared for this purpose in a uniform that does not reveal his affiliation with the Armed Forces of the USSR. The possibility of sending this detachment to the DRA was envisaged by the decision of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU dated June 29, 1979, No. P 1561 IX.

Due to the fact that the issues of sending a detachment to Kabul have been agreed with the Afghan side, we believe it is possible to transfer it by military transport aircraft in the first half of December this year. Mr. Comrade DF Ustinov agrees.

Yu. Andropov, N. Ogarkov. No. 312/210073. December 4, 1979

On the instructions of the Soviet leadership, Ambassador Tabeyev informed H. Amin about the satisfaction of his request to send two battalions to strengthen the protection of the residence of the head of state and the Bagram airfield. These units were transferred to the DRA on December 3 and 14. With one of them, B. Karmal arrived illegally, who was in Bagram under the protection of the KGB of the USSR among Soviet soldiers and officers. Around the same time, the "four" associates of the former PDPA General Secretary Taraki, who took refuge in Kabul with their supporters, were also transported. At the same time, Kh. Amin was informed that the Soviet leadership had satisfied his request and was ready to receive him in Moscow on an official friendly visit.

However, relying only on internal opposition was risky. Therefore, the leadership of the USSR came to the conclusion that without Soviet troops it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to create conditions for the removal of Kh. Amin from power. There were also no guarantees that the Afghan army would accept and support B. Karmal and his new government. And even if he succeeds in seizing power, will he be able to repel the attacks of the armed opposition? After all, her resistance grew. According to the information of the Soviet embassy at that time, “the Afghan opposition has significantly expanded its social base, strengthened its ranks, and created a foothold in Pakistan. As a result of the impact of the counter-revolution on the personnel of some military units, anti-government demonstrations took place in a number of garrisons, mostly remote from the center.

So, mutinies took place in the 30th Mountain Infantry Regiment (Asmar), 36th Infantry (Naray), 18th Infantry (Khost) and some other units, which were isolated from their higher headquarters for a long time and did not receive any support, as well as the supply of weapons, ammunition, food, etc. The appearance of new formations of the IOA and IPA in the provinces of Kunar, Nangarhar, Lagman, Paktia, Kapisa, Ghazni, Zabol, Kandahar, Gur, Badgis, Bamyan, Herat was noted. Under the control of detachments and other formations of the opposition (or outside the control of the government) is about 70% of the Afghan territory, which is home to over 10 million people, that is, almost all of the countryside ... ".

According to reports from Kabul, by December the situation in Afghanistan was not in favor of the government. In addition, a fierce struggle in the leadership of the republic over the issue of attitude towards the army led to a significant disorganization of the armed forces of the DRA. The constant shaking up of the leading personnel, purges and repressions among generals and officers, forced conscription and a number of other moments significantly influenced the cohesion and combat effectiveness of the troops. Therefore, the Afghan army by that time was significantly weakened and, according to Amin, was unable to independently defend the ruling regime and defend the sovereignty of the state, although our military advisers held a different opinion and reported on this. But there was also an unwritten rule - to transmit mainly the information that would suit those in power, to "guess" only that information, which would correspond to the ideas of the leaders themselves about the developing situation in a particular country and confirm their perspicacity. Usually they tried to "keep their nose to the wind", in every possible way trying to find out the opinion of the leadership and act in accordance with this opinion.

On December 8, a meeting was held in Leonid Brezhnev's office, in which a narrow circle of members of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee took part: Yu. Andropov, A. Gromyko, M. Suslov and D. Ustinov. They discussed for a long time the situation in Afghanistan and around it, weighed all the pros and cons of bringing Soviet troops there. As arguments in the need for such a step on the part of Yu. Andropov and D. Ustinov, the following were cited: 

efforts undertaken by the US CIA (resident in Ankara Paul Henzi) to create a “New Great Ottoman Empire” with the inclusion of the southern republics from the USSR; the absence of a reliable air defense system in the south, which, if US Pershing missiles are deployed in Afghanistan, endangers many vital facilities, including the Baikonur cosmodrome; the possibility of using Afghan uranium deposits by Pakistan and Iraq to create nuclear weapons;

In the end, it was decided in a preliminary plan to work out two options: by the hands of the KGB special services, eliminate Kh. Amin and put Babrak Karmal in his place; send a certain number of troops to the territory of Afghanistan for the same purposes.

On December 10, 1979, Minister of Defense of the USSR D.F. people N.V. Ogarkov was surprised and outraged by this decision, saying that 75 thousand people would not stabilize the situation and he was against the introduction of troops, which was folly. The minister sharply besieged him: 

“Are you going to teach the Politburo? You only have to obey orders ... ”

On the same day Nikolai Vasilyevich was urgently summoned to Leonid Brezhnev's office, where the so-called“ small Politburo ”(Yu. Andropov, A. Gromyko and D. Ustinov) gathered.

The Chief of the General Staff again tried to convince those present that the Afghan problem should be solved by political means, and not rely on forceful methods. He referred to the traditions of the Afghans, who never tolerated foreigners on their territory, warned about the likelihood of our troops being drawn into hostilities, but everything turned out to be in vain. Although then, at the end of the conversation, it was as if it was decided that for now the decision on immediate military assistance would not be made, but just in case, let the troops get ready.

In the evening, D. Ustinov convened a board of the Ministry of Defense and informed a narrow circle of officials from among the top military leadership that in the near future, obviously, a decision would be made on the use of Soviet troops in Afghanistan and an appropriate grouping should be prepared. For this, directive No. 312/12/00133 was sent to the troops. Beginning on December 10, DF Ustinov began to give oral instructions to the Chief of the General Staff on the formation of a new combined-arms army in the Turkestan military district. On the basis of these instructions, a selective mobilization of troops was carried out, and airborne and other military units were also transferred to TurkVO. All events were held secretly and were legendary.

Obviously, the last point was put after receiving from Kabul a report from the representative of the KGB of the USSR, Lieutenant General B. Ivanov, with his assessment of the situation in Afghanistan. It was this report that lay on the table of the USSR Minister of Defense at the moment when he was going to leave for a meeting of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the CPSU on the morning of December 12. This is evidenced by Major General V.P. Zaplatin, who at that time was an adviser to the head of the Political Directorate of the Afghan Army. The day before he was summoned by the Minister of Defense of the USSR to Moscow to report on the situation as the person who most thoroughly knows the state of affairs in the DRA army, in view of the fact that the newly arrived chief military adviser S. Magometov had not yet clearly understood the Afghan situation. When the general expressed his disagreement with the assessments of the Afghan army, which were given by representatives of our special services,

On December 12, at a meeting of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee (or rather, its elite), at the suggestion of Yu.V. Andropov, D.F. Ustinov and A.A. "Events". According to the conviction of the Soviet leaders, this step was supposed to contribute to the interests of strengthening the state and did not pursue anything else. A special folder of the Central Committee of the CPSU contained the minutes of this meeting, written by the hand of K.U.

Particularly important document

Top secret

Special folder

Comrade L. I. Brezhnev.

Attended by: Suslov M.A., Grishin V.V., Kirilenko A.P., Pelshe A. Ya., Ustinov D.F., Chernenko K.U., Andropov Yu.V., Gromyko A.A., Tikhonov N.A., Ponomarev B.N.

Resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU No. 176 1125 of 12 / XI

To position in "A"

1. To approve the considerations and measures outlined by Comrades. Andropov Yu. V., Ustinov DF, Gromyko AA Allow them to make adjustments of a non-fundamental nature in the course of these measures.

Questions requiring a decision by the Central Committee should be submitted to the Politburo in a timely manner. The implementation of all these activities shall be entrusted to Comrades Andropova Yu.V., Ustinova D.F., Gromyko A.A.

2. Instruct com Yu. V. Andropov, DF Ustinov, AA Gromyko to inform the Politburo of the Central Committee about the progress of the planned measures.

Secretary of the Central Committee L. Brezhnev No. 997 (1 sheet).

This document clarifies in many ways who was the initiator and executor of the introduction of Soviet troops into Afghanistan. The protocol was signed by all members of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee who were present at this meeting. Nobody then spoke "against". Each of the members of the Politburo knew how disagreement with the opinion of the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee was regarded, and therefore all his proposals "met with unanimous approval." The principle of mutual responsibility was in effect. It is noteworthy that A. N. Kosygin was not present at the meeting, whose position on this issue was negative. In the document, the letter "A" denoted Afghanistan, and the word "events" meant the entry of Soviet troops into this country. Thus, all misinterpretations and discrepancies about who is responsible for making the decision to send troops to Afghanistan are removed.

The cipher telegrams that arrived later seemed to confirm the correctness of the steps taken by the USSR leadership with respect to Afghanistan.

Report from Kabul

(Secret. Urgent ...)

... On December 12 and 17, a KGB representative met with H. Amin. Of the statements of Amin, the following are noteworthy. Amin persistently pursued the idea of ​​the need for the direct participation of the Soviet Union in curbing the hostilities of bandit formations in the northern regions of the DRA. His reasoning boiled down to the following:

The current Afghan leadership will welcome the presence of the Soviet Armed Forces in a number of strategically important points in the northern provinces of the DRA ... Amin said that the forms and methods of rendering military assistance should be determined by the Soviet side.

The USSR can have military garrisons in those places where it wants to.

The USSR can take under protection all the objects of the Afghan-Soviet cooperation.

Soviet troops could take over the protection of the DRA communications ...

Representative of the KGB of the USSR. 12/17/1979

The decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR or any other government document on the issue of the introduction of troops was not adopted. All instructions were given orally. This was due to the interests of ensuring secrecy and misleading  Amin.

At that time, the implementation of such actions was possible due to the then practice of making important political decisions: in fact, after being approved by the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee (the highest body of the ruling party), they were basically only formally “approved” by state bodies and announced to the people. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that if this question had been raised at that time by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, it would have been unanimously positively resolved. After all, this was the era of "common thinking", and there was a clear system of subordination created by the party nomenklatura, which did not allow taking a single step away from the line developed by the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee, and the people who held key positions in the state were under the total control of this system. ...

The then leadership of the CPSU did not consider it necessary to bring this issue up for discussion by the Supreme Soviet of the USSR. They announced: "International aid" - and that was the end of it. And now those are cunning (even at a high level) who, in their own defense, claim that they knew nothing about the intention to send troops to Afghanistan and did not take part in it. When did they find out, did they begin to protest or express their disagreement? On the contrary, they approved. This can be easily confirmed by excerpts from speeches of many party and state leaders of those years.

The resolution of the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU "On the international situation and foreign policy of the Soviet Union", unanimously adopted on June 23, 1980, stated (imperialist aim is to): strangle the Afghan revolution and create a pro-imperialist foothold for military aggression on the southern borders of the USSR. The plenary session is in favor of a political settlement of the situation around Afghanistan, which is pursuing a policy of non-alignment. This requires, as stated by the DRA government, a complete cessation of aggression against the country and reliable guarantees against subversive activities from abroad ... "

In the reports of Leonid I. Brezhnev and A. A. Gromyko, as well as in the speeches of the participants in the plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, where the question of sending troops to Afghanistan was touched upon, this action of the Soviet Union was approved. Noteworthy in this regard is the speech from the rostrum of the Central Committee plenum of the first secretary of the Communist Party of Georgia E. A. Shevardnadze: 

“The world knows that the Soviet Union and its leader do not leave friends to fend for themselves, that his word does not differ from his deed. (Stormy, prolonged applause.)

Being an eyewitness to the titanic activities of Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, reading the recordings of his conversations, fundamental works, speeches on external and internal problems, you feel sincere joy and pride from the knowledge that the head of the party and state is a person who organically combines the broadest erudition, Lenin's adherence to principles, proletarian firmness, revolutionary courage, high humanism, rare diplomatic flexibility. (Stormy, prolonged applause.)

I recall the deep concern of the Soviet people when the gains of the Afghan revolution were in the balance. They were worried about the fate of the Afghan people, the fate of our borders and southern borders. And the bold, the only correct, the only wise step taken in relation to Afghanistan was received with satisfaction by every Soviet person.

Ardently supporting the measures of the Central Committee of the party, the Soviet government, set out in the report of Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, in the name of preserving and developing the gains of the Afghan revolution, ensuring the security of our southern borders, the working people of Georgia, like the entire Soviet people, warmly approve of the foreign policy activities of the Central Committee of our party, the Politburo , comrade Leonid Ilyich Brezhnev, which fully corresponds to the vital interests of our Motherland, of all progressive humanity ... ”Later, however, he expressed himself quite differently, but, as they say, you cannot erase a word from a song. In general, it must be said that E. Shevardnadze was always distinguished by the fact that in all his public speeches, be it at congresses or plenums, he extolled the wisdom and perspicacity of the leader, bursting into a "Caucasian" nightingale.

The head of the 4th Main Medical Directorate ("Kremlin hospital"), Academician E. I. Chazov, who had been observing Leonid Brezhnev's health for many years, stated that approximately in the last seven years of his life, the General Secretary of the CPSU Central Committee had such changes in the functions of the central nervous system that for this reason he could not fulfill his duties. The academician's recollections shed light on many circumstances: “When now sometimes voices are heard, including from the former leadership, that the Politburo and the Central Committee were not informed about the true state of Brezhnev's health, then this is not even deceit, not a trick, but "A lie for salvation." After all, those who knew and put up with the situation must somehow justify their silence and inaction. Yes, in truth, what could they have done? All power at that time was in the hands of the "Brezhnev group"

I am not familiar with the details of the preparation and conduct of the invasion of Afghanistan by our troops. If you believe some mass media, then only four people - Ustinov, Gromyko, Andropov and Tikhonov - prepared and carried out this invasion, no one in the leadership in the Central Committee knew that such an action would be carried out. But this is not the case. Members of the country's leadership and members of the Central Committee were constantly informed about the situation in Afghanistan. Hundreds of our representatives, including party advisers, KGB and army intelligence officers, collected extensive material and presented it to Moscow.

For me, the Afghan events began before the entry of Soviet troops took place - they began at a time when, on the orders of Hafizullah Amin, his brother Abdullah (the head of the Afghan security service), himself or with the hands of one of his people, “eliminated” the party leader (PDPA) and the state of Taraki ...

Brezhnev, despite the decrease in the ability of critical perception, violently experienced this event. Most of all, he was outraged by the fact that only on September 10, shortly before these events, he received Taraki, promised him help and support, assured that the Soviet Union fully trusted him. “What a bastard - Amin: strangle the person with whom he participated in the revolution. Who is at the head of the Afghan revolution? - he said at the meeting. - And what will they say in other countries? How can you believe the words of Brezhnev, if his assurances of support and protection remain words? " 

In approximately the same spirit as Andropov told me, Brezhnev spoke in his presence and in the presence of Ustinov. It is unlikely that these remarks of Brezhnev played the role of a catalyst for the invasion of Afghanistan, but in the fact that the events that followed the assassination of Taraki, and the loss of confidence in Amin on the part of Brezhnev and his entourage played a role in the entry of troops into Afghanistan, no doubt about it. It was after these events that preparations for the invasion began ...

At that time, I often had to meet Andropov, never in all 17 years of my acquaintance had I seen him in such tension. It seems to me that just before the Soviet troops entered Afghanistan, unlike Ustinov, he experienced periods of uncertainty and even confusion. But he very much trusted his sources of information, which contributed to the creation of a certain understanding of the situation in this country and possible ways of resolving it. It was believed that if you isolate Amin and his entourage, put new people in the leadership instead of them, support this leadership of the military force, then everything will fall into place ...

Without great losses on the Soviet side, Babrak Karmal was put in place of Amin at the head of the party and state. However, contrary to the information, everything happened the other way around - the introduction of troops exacerbated the situation ...

Remembering the period before the invasion of Soviet troops in Afghanistan, the turn of events, I am sure that the decision to start the Afghan war was the property of many people and the myth is the assertion that only a narrow group in the country's leadership knew about it ... "Speaking about the reaction in the Soviet Union to the introduction of troops into Afghanistan, it should be noted that, perhaps, only one AD Sakharov, and even members of "underground, dissident circles" publicly condemned this action. But they made their statements in the Western mass media, which were then little known to the general Soviet public, and in practice these speeches simply remained unnoticed or "aroused the anger and indignation of the Soviet people" they could not provide. And they, in my opinion, should not be overestimated now. The others generally preferred to keep quiet. This was subsequently revealed to a great many figures who, not only “in their minds,” but also “openly,” were always “against,” however, for some reason, their voices were not heard then. Therefore, now every person, including journalists, must be honest to the end - and not abstractly “condemn” the “upper classes” - politicians, military men, Oriental scholars, etc. That is, anyone, but not yourself.

Some of the former leaders of the CPSU and the USSR, who made this decision (LI Brezhnev, Yu. V. Andropov, DF Ustinov, MA Suslov ...), did not live to see the end of the "Afghan" war. They took with them to the grave the secret of how the issue of bringing troops to the DRA was resolved in detail, but A.A. Gromyko in 1988-1989. I managed to tell you something:

“… On December 5, 1978, the Soviet-Afghan Treaty of Friendship, Good Neighborliness and Cooperation was signed.

... in accordance with this agreement, the government of the Republic of Afghanistan asked the Soviet Union to provide armed support to the Afghan People's Army.

This request was weighed in the Soviet Union for a long time and carefully. In the end, the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee unanimously decided to provide such assistance ...

The situation was further accentuated by the assassination of Taraki, General Secretary of the Central Committee of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan, whose government had issued requests for help. This bloody act made a tremendous impression on the Soviet leadership. Leonid Brezhnev took his death especially hard.

In the end, in such a situation, it was decided to introduce a limited contingent of Soviet troops into Afghanistan.

After this decision was made at the Politburo, I went into Brezhnev's office and said:

- Wouldn't it be worthwhile to formalize the decision to bring in our troops somehow along the state line?

Brezhnev did not answer immediately. He picked up the phone:

- Mikhail Andreevich, will you come to me? There is a need for advice.

Suslov appeared. Brezhnev informed him about our conversation. Added on his own:

- In the current situation, apparently, it is necessary to make an urgent decision - either ignore the appeal of Afghanistan with a request for help, or save the people's power and act in accordance with the Soviet-Afghan agreement.

Suslov said:

- We have a treaty with Afghanistan, and we need to fulfill the obligations under it quickly, since we have already decided so. We will discuss it later at the Central Committee.

The Plenum of the Central Committee of the CPSU, which was then held in June 1980, fully and unanimously approved the decision of the Politburo.

Even during the working conferences before the final decision was made on the deployment of our troops, Chief of the General Staff Marshal of the Soviet Union N.V. Ogarkov expressed the opinion that certain units of the Afghan army could resist.

Initially, it was assumed that our troops would only help local residents to defend themselves from invading gangs from outside, provide the population with food and basic necessities - fuel, fabrics, soap, etc.

We did not want to increase the size of our contingent, nor to get involved in serious hostilities, and our troops were deployed mainly in garrisons in cities ... ”The main goal of the Soviet military presence in the DRA was peacekeeping and was formulated unambiguously - to help stabilize the situation and repel possible aggression from outside. Soviet troops were supposed to become garrisons and not get involved in internal conflict and hostilities. They were indeed ordered to provide assistance to the local population in protection from gangs everywhere, as well as to distribute food, fuel and basic necessities. Now, of course, it is clear that such an attitude was unrealistic, but then it was considered acceptable.

The reader can see for himself how difficult it was then in the Soviet Union to make this decision. It was not hasty and spontaneous, as some journalists try to present, but the final word remained with the non-professionals.

Yes, the leadership of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces (N.V. Ogarkov, S.F.Akhromeev 10V.I. Varennikov), as well as the Commander-in-Chief of the Ground Forces, General of the Army I.G. Pavlovsky, before the final decision was made by the political leadership of the USSR, opposed the introduction of troops, since they believed that the Afghan leadership should resolve internal conflicts exclusively independently, our military presence would provoke the unleashing of hostilities will lead to an intensification of the rebellious movement in the country, which will primarily be directed against the Soviet troops, and poor knowledge of the customs and traditions of Afghans, especially Islam, national-ethnic and tribal relations will put our soldiers in a very difficult position. This, incidentally, then happened, but the party did not pay attention to the arguments and objections of the military. More weighty were the arguments put forward by party functionaries,

First Deputy Minister of Defense of the USSR Marshal of the Soviet Union Sergei Leonidovich Sokolov went on vacation at the beginning of December and went on parliamentary affairs for a week in Karelia. Then he intended to go to rest in the Kislovodsk military sanatorium. However, he was unexpectedly recalled to Moscow. Suspecting nothing, he told his family to prepare for their departure. But instead of Kislovodsk, he found himself in Termez the very next day, a city located on the Soviet-Afghan border. It was S. Sokolov who was instructed to directly supervise the preparation and deployment of troops to Afghanistan. Leaving, he told his wife: "I'll be back in a month, and then we'll go to the sanatorium." But the business trip lasted for a whole year ...

There are many interpretations and opinions about the reasons and goals for the introduction of troops. They are quite different, sometimes even polar. I will try to cite some of the most typical of them, as well as show different versions and views with an analysis of the situation prevailing in that period in the world. It was not very simple and was evaluated ambiguously. The note, presented to the Central Committee of the CPSU after the Soviet troops entered Afghanistan, gave the following assessment and the reasons for this action.


Top secret

Central Committee of the CPSU

On the events in Afghanistan on December 27-28, 1979

After the coup d'état and the assassination of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the PDPA, the chairman of the Revolutionary Council of Afghanistan N.M. Taraki, committed by Amin in September this year, the situation in Afghanistan sharply deteriorated and acquired a crisis character.

H. Amin established a regime of personal dictatorship in the country, reducing the position of the Central Committee of the PDPA and the Revolutionary Council to the level of purely nominal bodies. To leading posts in the party and the state were appointed persons related to H. Amin by family relations or bonds of personal loyalty. Many members of the Central Committee of the PDPA, the Revolutionary Council and the Afghan government were expelled and arrested from the ranks of the party. The participants in the April Revolution, those who did not hide their sympathy for the USSR, those who defended the Leninist norms of internal party life, were mainly subjected to repression and physical destruction. H. Amin deceived the party and the people with his statements that the Soviet Union allegedly approved measures to remove NM Taraki from the party and government.

On the direct instructions of Amin, deliberately fabricated rumors began to spread in the DRA, defaming the Soviet Union and casting a shadow on the activities of Soviet workers in Afghanistan, for whom restrictions were established in maintaining contacts with Afghan representatives. At the same time, there were attempts to establish contacts with the Americans within the framework of the "more balanced foreign policy course" approved by H. Amin. Amin introduced the practice of holding confidential meetings with the US Charge d'Affaires in Kabul. The DRA government began to create favorable conditions for the work of the American cultural center, by order of H. Amin, the DRA special services stopped working against the US embassy. Amin sought to strengthen his position by reaching a compromise with the leaders of the internal counter-revolution.

The scale of political repression became more and more widespread. In the period after the September events in Afghanistan alone, more than 600 PDPA members, military personnel and other persons suspected of anti-Amin sentiments were killed without trial or investigation. In fact, it was heading towards the liquidation of the party.

... Dictatorial methods of governing the country, repressions, mass shootings, non-observance of the rule of law caused widespread discontent in the country. Numerous leaflets began to appear in the capital, exposing the anti-popular nature of the current regime, and appeals for unity to fight the " Amin clique." The discontent spread to the army as well. A significant part of the officers expressed their indignation at the dominance of Kh. Amin's incompetent henchmen. In fact, a broad anti-Amin front has developed in the country ...

In extremely difficult conditions that threatened the gains of the April Revolution and the interests of ensuring the security of our country, it became necessary to provide additional military assistance to Afghanistan, especially since the past government of the DRA also made such a request. In accordance with the provisions of the 1978 Soviet-Afghan treaty, it was decided to send the necessary contingent of the Soviet Army to Afghanistan ...

Yu. Andropov, A. Gromyko, D. Ustinov, B. Ponomarev. No. 2519-A, December 31, 1979

The arguments presented in the document boil down mainly to the fact that the main reason for the introduction of troops is the need to remove Kh. Amin from power. But was it that important? It is not yet known how the events in Afghanistan would develop if H. Amin remained at the head of the DRA. After all, the strength of any state, and a totalitarian one in particular, largely depends on the personality of its leader. When this is a strong personality, the state develops, otherwise it either withers or collapses altogether. By all estimates, Amin was a strong personality, and it is definitely unlikely that he would have left the USSR. But the Soviet leadership was strongly influenced by information from the special services about Kh. Amin's involvement in the CIA. In addition, an important role was played by the personal factor, the ambitions of individual Soviet politicians (H. Amin could not be forgiven for ignoring the appeal of the Politburo of the CPSU Central Committee and "personally" L. I. Brezhnev regarding the preservation of the life of N. Taraki). It was the personal ambitions of the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU that had a decisive influence on the rest of the leadership of the USSR, depriving him of statesmanship, forcing him to change his beliefs about the inexpediency of direct use of his troops in the internal Afghan conflict. Considering the issue of bringing Soviet troops into Afghanistan, it should be noted that the development of Soviet policy towards the DRA was undoubtedly influenced by the realities and assessments of the international situation at that time. The Cold War was going on. Considering the issue of bringing Soviet troops into Afghanistan, it should be noted that the development of Soviet policy towards the DRA was undoubtedly influenced by the realities and assessments of the international situation at that time. 

There was a military-strategic confrontation between two superpowers (the USA and the USSR), two systems and military blocs, as well as a geopolitical rivalry with China. He was then viewed by the Soviet leadership as a likely enemy.

It was still unclear how events would turn in Iran, where Khomeini came to power. The anti-Shah revolution in Iran and the establishment of an Islamic regime there forced the Americans to look for new places for military bases. Therefore, massive assistance to the Afghan rebels and the strengthening of the US forces in the region, in the immediate vicinity of our borders, could not but alert the leaders of the Soviet Union. In addition, at the end of the 1970s, the development of the process of detente in relations between the USSR and the United States slowed down noticeably. The Carter administration unilaterally decided to freeze the ratification of the SALT-2 Treaty indefinitely, which was seen in the Soviet Union as an indicator of a sharp change in the general military-political course of the Americans. NATO considered the issue of annual increases by its members of their military budgets until the end of the 20th century.

Back in June 1978, a NATO Atlantic group symposium was held in Annapolis (USA), where the situation with Afghanistan and the ensuing consequences for America and its allies were discussed. More than 270 generals, admirals, diplomats, scientists and officials took part in the symposium, codenamed "Sea Link". It was unanimously noted that the West and NATO cannot afford the luxury of dealing only with Europe. At the December (1979) session of NATO, a program was approved for the production and deployment in Europe of a number of new systems of American nuclear missile weapons: “NATO foreign ministers approved in Brussels a plan for the deployment of new medium-range missiles in Western Europe. The meeting was named extremely important and successful. The US Secretary of State, according to the information, in particular, emphasized:

“At the meeting it was decided that the United States would produce the Cruise and Pershing-2 missiles. Adopted in Western Europe, these missiles will be able to strike the territory of the Soviet Union. At the meeting, reference was made to the attempts of the Soviet Union to persuade NATO members to abandon the deployment of these missiles. The only country where this attempt has been successful is the Netherlands. Although there is information that they will make their final decision in two years. Belgium also postponed consideration of this issue for six months. The rest of NATO members argue that any delay in the implementation of this plan is unacceptable ... ”(from the report of the USSR KGB representative in Brussels, December 13, 1979).

The Soviet leadership was also worried about the fact that there was a further rapprochement between the United States and China on an anti-Soviet basis. The American military presence in the Persian Gulf, in the immediate vicinity of Afghanistan and our southern borders, was demonstratively intensified. The situation in various regions of the world, especially in the Near and Middle East, was assessed as tense, explosive. Directly beyond its southwestern border, another revolution was taking place in Iran, which worried Soviet leaders for two reasons. First of all, an Islamic revival in Iran could have diminished Soviet influence there and spread "disobedience" to Afghanistan and even among millions of Soviet Muslims. Further, the fall of the Shah could have required the United States to seek a different location in the region for its military base.

Taking such a step, the Soviet leadership proceeded from the then existing assessments of the situation in the world and the region, as well as views on the prospects for rivalry with the United States. The prevailing opinion was that the deployment of American missiles in Europe made Soviet targets all the way to the Urals vulnerable, and this action would ease tensions and divert attention from the European part. The strengthening of the aircraft carrier group in the Persian Gulf and the aviation on the island of Diego Garcia created difficulties in the air defense of industrial and main centers of oil, gas and coal production in Siberia. The possibility of deploying American funds in Afghanistan due to the revolution in Iran made the situation even worse. According to some experts, there was a danger of American interference in the affairs of Afghanistan, which could pose a threat to the security of the southern borders of the USSR. In my opinion, it was unlikely, since they would have suffered the same fate as us. Apparently, the desire of the Soviet leadership to prevent the formation of the terrorist regime of Amin and to protect the Afghan people from genocide, as well as to prevent the opposition from coming to power, thereby preserving an "ideological" ally, played a role.

In addition, the style of leadership was then dominated by great-power thinking. There was also a somewhat dismissive attitude towards Afghans, and not only towards them. DF Ustinov, for example, believed that as soon as the Soviet troops appeared in Afghanistan, some of the rebels would immediately lay down their arms, while others would simply scatter.

Assessing the situation in and around the DRA, Soviet leaders reacted with alarm to statements by Islamic fundamentalists that if they came to power, they would transfer the struggle "under the green banner of jihad" to the territory of the Soviet Central Asian republics.

“The Kremlin is so bogged down in the support of the Kabul 'Marxists' that it will no longer be able to avoid direct military support to its protégés ... In addition, Moscow is frightened by the prospects of a new Iranian influence not only in Afghanistan, but also in Azerbaijan and Central Asia. It is the Moscow creature in Kabul that, in the Kremlin's opinion, is an important outpost against the idea of ​​the unity of all Muslims ”(Keikhan, Tehran, September 15, 1979). This is how Iranian political scientists viewed the situation.

Of course, when the situation in the world has changed dramatically, these circumstances seem to many to be insignificant, and fears exaggerated. Many authors of articles on "Afghan problems" speak about the far-fetchedness of such threats, about "letting the powers that be duck" in order to justify their actions to send troops into the territory of a neighboring state. One can, of course, partly agree with this, but one cannot but take into account that the current situation in the DRA and around it was explosive. And she could not but influence the then Soviet political and state leadership. Indeed, in the 70s and 80s, the USSR had a completely different worldview, different views and approaches in international politics. And obviously wrong are those who portray Y. Andropov, D. Ustinov, A. Gromyko as fools, who then made the decision to send troops into Afghanistan. They weren't. They simply did not have enough statesmanship (and perhaps the firmness of spirit and perseverance in defending their views on the inexpediency of the introduction of troops), and they did not find another way out, and this step, as it seemed to them, should have solved all the problems. Be that as it may, they tried to act in the interests of the national security of the state in the name of some higher ideological goal but abstracted themselves from the people.

In general, the fate and lives of people in the entire history of the Soviet Union have never been considered. They were "put on the altar of the Fatherland" when it was necessary and not necessary. Indeed, for a long time, the foreign security policy of the Soviet Union was built largely on the basis of ideological dogmas. It was they who acted as the criterion of correctness in assessing the decisions taken at that time. The state and national interests of the country were also subordinated to them. Particular attention was paid to supporting their ideological allies. Suffice it to recall the Cuban missile crisis, Germany (1953), Hungary (1956), Czechoslovakia (1968), etc.

It should be noted that the experience of Afghanistan later still taught the Soviet leaders something, since during the aggravation of the situation in Poland in the early 80s, when the question arose of bringing Warsaw Pact troops there to defend the socialist gains (similarly it was in 1968 with regard to Czechoslovakia), perhaps the main reason that this action did not take place was the Soviet presence in Afghanistan. Perhaps this prevented even more casualties. As the saying goes, "there would be no happiness, but misfortune helped."

In the light of the improvement in Soviet-American and Soviet-Israeli relations in the late 1980s, it became possible to express various, sometimes the most fantastic, versions explaining the motives that prompted the Soviet top political leadership to decide to send troops to the DRA. There are even analysts who are trying to present this act as almost a conspiracy between the USSR and the United States, designed to divert attention from Israel. It is argued, for example, that the scenario of the Saur revolution and subsequent events in Afghanistan was developed by the CIA and Israeli intelligence. In their opinion, certain circles in the West were interested in diverting the attention of the world community from the Middle East, drawing the Soviet Union into an armed conflict in another region, driving a wedge between the USSR and the Arab (mainly Muslim) world,

Doctor of Historical Sciences, ethnographer-orientalist SI Korolev, for example, said on this occasion: 

“I very much remember the so-called“ situational analyzes ”at the Institute of Oriental Studies on Afghanistan. The "experts" drew conclusions: American missiles may appear in the Pamirs, and a land and water reform must be carried out in Afghanistan.  The result is well known. The reform developed by the same "experts" has turned millions of Afghans from ardent supporters into irreconcilable opponents of our country. American missiles never appeared. But the same Americans were untied in the Middle East, as well as Israel ... "

It is also difficult to agree with those researchers who highlight the economic benefits that the Soviet Union could allegedly receive after the invasion of Afghanistan. Here, apparently, it is appropriate to recall the assessment given to this power by A. Ye. Snesarev: 

Afghanistan itself does not represent any value. But this is not enough. It is a mountainous country, devoid of roads, lack of technical facilities, with a fragmented and unreliable population; and this population, moreover, is also freedom-loving, distinguished by pride, values ​​its independence. The latter circumstance leads to the fact that if this country can be conquered, then it is very difficult to keep it in our hands. The establishment of administration and the establishment of order will require so many resources that the country will never return these expenses: it has nothing to return from.

Therefore, we must say with all frankness that in the history of the century-long struggle between England and Russia, Afghanistan itself did not play any role and its value has always been indirect and conditional. If you think about the essence of its political value, then it mainly boils down to the fact that Afghanistan includes operational routes to India, it is the only doorway to India, and there is no other.

... This is confirmed by the thousand-year history and the conquerors of India, who always went through Afghanistan ... "

Indeed, recent history also confirms the correctness of many of Snesarev's conclusions, although they were made back in 1921. In this regard, the introduction of Soviet troops into the DRA, among other things, not accidentally turned out to be colossal economic losses for the USSR.

The commentary of Egyptian experts is noteworthy: 

“Some Afghan extremists, hiding behind 'socialism', provoked Moscow to occupy Afghanistan ... At the same time, such an occupation was strategically beneficial for Iran, Pakistan, as well as China and the United States: Tehran received justification for the further expansion of Khomeinism, and Beijing, Islamabad and Washington received a chance to take revenge for the defeat in Iran (overthrow of Pahlavi) and, consequently, stop the Shiite (Iranian) and Soviet expansion in the region "(Middle East Digest. Cairo, 1990. N 122). It seems to me that the US plans were much more ambitious.

Who would benefit from the Soviet Union getting bogged down in a regional local conflict? Apparently, to all those who provided assistance to the opposition PDPA forces and in every possible way tried to prolong the stay of Soviet troops in Afghanistan. In 1979-1980. even Western journalists paid attention: when Soviet troops actually began to move to the Afghan border, the Pentagon and the US State Department remained suspiciously silent. With modern reconnaissance means, they could not miss the preparation of Soviet troops for entry into Afghanistan. Obviously, the Americans "quietly" expected that the USSR would be drawn into a war in which it was impossible to win. Moreover, on the basis of an analysis of the measures taken by the Americans at that time, I would venture to suggest that the Soviet leaders and our special services "fell for the bait", they were deliberately misled.

Now the question is often asked: "Was it possible to prevent the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan and was it necessary to bring them in at all?" Of course, you can talk a lot on this topic and make some recommendations. I do not want to take on such a role, because history cannot be reversed, it has no alternative and does not repeat itself, no matter how much one wants it. It is easy, of course, to foresee everything when the events took place. And yet it must be said that there was no fatal inevitability to send troops to the DRA. No objective circumstances, even at that time, forced this. The subjective, "personal" factor turned out to be decisive. Yes, and we went there to ensure peace, and brought - the war. This factor is very important to take into account now when deciding to conduct peacekeeping operations under the auspices of the UN.

Many researchers still cannot find an answer to the questions: “Why did the Soviet Union carry out passive actions in the DRA? Even when it was necessary, he did not increase his grouping, thereby giving the rebels a chance to continue the struggle. Who would benefit from this war "smoldering"? " After all, such a tactic and strategy has never brought success. The Americans, for example, have long drawn certain conclusions from their failure in Vietnam. They now adhere to the views - if you started a war, then you need to use all available forces and means in it, otherwise you don’t need to start it at all. All the same, at the same time, the set goals will not be achieved, and the losses will be on the face. By the way, they acted decisively against Iraq in 1991, bringing down all their might (although in Somalia, for example, the Americans again avoided this tactic, however, acting within the framework of the UN). 

History has proved more than once that you cannot play war, and if you start, you have to fight properly. The USSR in Afghanistan was limited to military operations of a relatively limited scale, that is, in line with the line developed by the US Chiefs of Staff, called the low-intensity conflict, which exhausted the Soviet Union both economically and morally.

And in the end of my reflections, I will cite a document drawn up on the basis of the reports of Soviet representatives in Kabul (it does not take into account the requests made on the party line), which clearly shows that the Afghan rulers by any means wanted to get troops to help themselves.

Particularly important document

List of requests from the Afghan leadership regarding the entry of various contingents of Soviet troops into the DRA in 1979

(The numbers are indicated according to the days of transmission of secret reports to Moscow)

April 14 - Send 15-20 Soviet combat helicopters with crews to the DRA.

June 16 - Send Soviet crews to the DRA for tanks and infantry fighting vehicles to guard the government, Bagram and Shindad airfields.

July 11 - send several Soviet special groups, up to a battalion each, to Kabul.

July 19 - Introduce up to two slogans to Afghanistan.

July 20 - Introduce airborne motto to Kabul.

July 21 - Send 8-10 Mi-24 helicopters with Soviet crews to the DRA.

July 24 - send three army units to Kabul.

1 August - send a special brigade to Kabul.

August 12 - the speedy introduction of Soviet units to Kabul is necessary, which the Afghans will need until spring.

August 12 - Send three Soviet units and transport helicopters with Soviet crews to Kabul.

August 21 - Send 1.5-2 thousand Soviet paratroopers to Kabul. Replace Afghan anti-aircraft weapons crews with Soviet crews.

August 25 - to send Soviet troops to Kabul.

October 2 - Send a special battalion to guard Amin.

November 20 - to send a reinforced regiment to Badakhshan province.

December 2, December 4 - send units of the Soviet militia to the northern regions of Afghanistan.

December 12, December 17 - to deploy Soviet garrisons in the north of Afghanistan, to protect the DRA road.

There were about twenty such requests, sent only through Soviet representatives. Seven of them were expressed by Kh. Amin after the elimination of N.M. Taraki.

In addition, there were also personal appeals to the Soviet leadership during high-level meetings and during telephone conversations. However, if earlier some experts on Afghanistan questioned the existence of such requests, saying that Soviet troops suddenly invaded the territory of their neighbor, now they say: yes, there were such requests, but they, they say, have no legal force, then there is no reason to refer to them, since, having entered Afghanistan, "the Russians displaced and killed the one who invited them there."


 The final stage of preparation for the introduction of Soviet troops into the DRA

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