Archive for December, 2013


 

On April 26, 1986 the worst nuclear accident in human history occurred at Chernobyl located within the northern Ukraine. This occurred due to a surge of power at nuclear power station’s no. 4 reactor, what ensued was a massive explosion that let out massive amounts of radiation. This disaster led not only to the destruction of the nearby town and environment, but also to the economy and international relations.

Following the explosion, Russian leaders raced to evacuate the nearby town of Chernobyl and also tried everything they could to cover up this accident from the rest of the world. However this cover up was disastrous and instead the Soviet Union not only lost all credibility on the world stage but also got footed with a tremendous bill.   Though the Russian government have never published the exact figures many people believe the cost have well exceeded beyond three billion dollars.  The cost to clean up such a horrific disaster far exceed just throwing money at the issue.  Not only did the Soviet leaders need to clean up the affected area but they also needed to find homes and jobs for the thousands displaced from this nuclear disaster. Yet, as one could guess a significant consequence from this nuclear disaster came in the way of international relations. Not only did this produce resentment from many prominent countries such as the U.S. and the UK but also countries like Switzerland resented the Soviets for trying to cover up the issue instead of warning the surrounding countries. But one of the most significant forms of resentment came from an unforeseen location the people of the Ukraine. The people of the Ukraine long felt as if they were being abused and miss used by the soviets and this disaster was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

This disaster at Chernobyl was just another issue added onto the long list of issues compiling on top of the weakening Soviet Union. Though many could argue that this led to the fall of the Soviet Union I am not one of those people. Even though this event led to disastrous consequences on the global scale it’s still didn’t have as major an impact on the home front as the Soviet-Afghan war which wouldn’t end to almost three years later.

Sources:

Current Digest of the Soviet Press. Vol. 42, No. 18 (1990), pp. 6-7. http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1985chernvs1&SubjectID=1985chernobyl&Year=1985

United Nations and Chernobyl. 2002. http://www.soviethistory.org/index.php?page=article&ArticleID=1985chernobyltv1&SubjectID=1985chernobyl&Year=1985

 

At the height of the Cold War both the USSR and the United States agreed on one concept that in order to gain the upper hand in this war they must extend their political ideologies to other lands. While the United States tried to do this mostly through diplomatic means the USSR had other ideas. One of the prominent targets for the USSR was Afghanistan. The reason why the USSR wanted to target Afghanistan was due to its deep political ties to the country, thus it wanted to cement its reign over all those planning to rebel against the Afghanistan government. Though the Soviet government continued to say it is invading Afghanistan due to aid being requested by the government of Afghanistan, most people did not believe this due to their constant denial that they would invade Afghanistan for any reason.

Afghanistan- too many people Afghanistan is nothing more than a country in the Middle East filled with mountains and sand. However, what most people don’t know is Afghanistan has an infamous reputation in terms of an empire graveyard. Afghanistan has shown throughout history to be almost impossible to capture however on December 25, 1979 the Soviet Union planned to change this.

However once in Afghanistan, Russian troops and leaders ran into an excess of unforeseen challenges that weakened the Soviets ability to conduct attacks on the militia. There is a reason Afghanistan is called the graveyard of empires. The Afghani terrain is perilous with large impassible mountains, sudden cold temperatures, and extreme heat, to wide open fields surrounded by mountains the terrain the Soviet troops ran into was counter intuitive to waging modern warfare. Yet the biggest issue the Soviet troops came across was a group of freedom fighters known as the Mujahidin commonly known today as Al Qaeda.

At first the Soviet Union was able to handle the Mujahidin however after the CIA stepped into to back and train these freedom fighters the Soviet Union we unable to get any push against their enemies. Soon the Mujahidin, armed with American weapons such as the FIM-92 Stinger missile, were able to resist and fight against the Soviet troops; fighting them into a stalemate. This stalemate lasted almost a decade in which the USSR lost thirteen thousand troops and millions upon millions of rubles in a war they gained nothing but disastrous consequences.

To any American historian it is clear to see that Afghanistan was Russia’s Vietnam. At first they believed the war would be over almost instantaneous yet it lasted for a decade and allowed for soviet citizens to begin to question the status quo of the Soviet government. Than the economic burden placed on the economically weak Soviet Union proved to be its undoing. Two years after the end of the Afghanistan war the entire Soviet Union collapsed.

Sources:

“Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica Inc., 2013.http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/1499983/Soviet-invasion-of-Afghanistan

“Soviet-Afghan War 1979-1989” CNN video, 43:23. Posted by CNN. March 29, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d7Ji5EsJxbU

Gress, Michael. The Soviet-Afghan War: How a Superpower Fought and Lost. Kansas: University Press of Kansas , 2002.

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http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2005/10/29/arts/Fyodor2650.jpg

 

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