The End of Soviet Afghanistan

By the mid-1980’s, the Soviets were struggling in Afghanistan.  Troops were no longer deployed outside of urban

A Soviet tank in Afghanistan. Image URL:
Soviet tanks in Afghanistan.
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areas, which left the Afghan countryside to the control of the West- and foreign-funded militants.  These militants would end up fighting each other after the Soviets eventually withdrew from Afghanistan, they managed to band together and fight the Soviets.  At first, the Soviets recruited locals to fight the militants, but that quickly failed when the locals refused to shoot their countrymen (von Geldern).

An Afghan resistance fighter. Image URL:
A resistance fighter.
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However, the biggest issue was the news coverage of the failing Soviet campaign.  The news was eager to show images and tell stories of the Soviet Army, both the rare successes and common failures, which greatly hurt the public’s support of the Soviet’s involvement in Afghanistan (von Geldern).

Here you can find a CNN documentary on the Soviet war in Afghanistan.

Eventually, the strain got to be too much, and the Soviets were forced to withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989 (von Geldern).  In all, the Soviets lost 13,310 soldiers, 35,478 were wounded, and 311 soldiers were missing (Taubman).

Works Cited

Taubman, Philip. “Soviet Lists Afghan War Toll: 13,310 Dead, 35,478 Wounded.” The New York Times 26 May 1988. The New York Times. Web. 10 Dec. 2014.

Source Essay by James von Geldern “The Afghans” from Seventeen Moments in Soviet History.  URL:

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