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Digital Archive International History Declassified

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Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

Documents on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan that began in December 1979. The documents begin before the war, spanning from 1968 to 2004. They come from various sources, though a large number are from Russian archives. The collection contains many different types of documents, but a large number of them are memos, cables, and Politburo decisions. Hafizullah Amin, the then president of Afghanistan, was the main target of the Soviet invasion, which successfully assassinated him on December 27. The later documents include commentary on the later stages of the war and the Soviet withdrawal. (Image, abandoned Soviet tank)

  • March 17, 1979

    Transcript of CPSU CC Politburo Discussions on Afghanistan

    Transcript of CPSU CC Politburo Discussions on Afghanistan regarding deterioration of conditions in Afghanistan and possible responses from the Soviet Union

  • March 18, 1979

    Exerpt from Politburo Meeting on Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan

    CPSU CC Politburo Member Chernenko states that Soviet invervention in Afghanistan will lead to accussation of Soviet aggression

  • March 18, 1979

    CPSU CC Politburo Decisions on Afghanistan

    CPSU CC Politburo Decisions on Afghanistan assigning roles to expose outside intervention in Afghanistan and to deal with the deteriorating situation

  • March 18, 1979

    Telephone Conversation between Soviet Premier Alexei N. Kosygin and Afghan Premier Nur Mohammed Taraki

    This conversation reveals the difficulty that the Afghan political leadership faced in establishing a government--despite substantial military aid and advice from the Soviet Union.

  • March 20, 1979

    Record of Conversation between L.I. Brezhnev and N.M. Taraki, 20 March 1979

    After the more general meeting of the same day, Brezhnev and Taraki meet to further discuss the situation in Afghanistan. Brezhnev advises Taraki to widen the base of the government's support among the people through political and economic means. Taraki reaffirms his current position, which includes open borders with Iran and Pakistan as well as the policy of persecution within Afghanistan.

  • March 20, 1979

    Meeting of Kosygin, Gromyko, Ustinov, and Ponomarev with Taraki in Moscow

    Meeting of Kosygin, Gromyko, Ustinov, and Ponomarev with Taraki in Moscow to discuss the deterioration of the situation in Afghanistan and expressing Soviet support for Afghanistan.

  • March 22, 1979

    Record of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Afghanistan A.M. Puzanov and Taraki

    Record of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Afghanistan A.M. Puzanov and Taraki in which Taraki thanks Puzanov for Soviet aid and discusses conversation held with Soviet leaders

  • March 22, 1979

    Transcript of CPSU CC Politburo Session on Afghanistan

  • March 28, 1979

    Soviet Communication to the Hungarian Leadership on the Situation in Afghanistan

    This document discusses the strained political situation in Afghanistan in terms of counter-revolutionaries attempting to overthrow the government. Such revolutions in part came from reactionary Muslim regions, some of which are replete with Shiites who may have been influence by the Chinese government.

  • April 01, 1979

    Memo on Protocol #149 of the Politburo, "Our future policy in connection with the situation in Afghanistan"

    The following CPSU Central Committee document, dated 1 April 1979 and signed by Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, Defense Minister Dmitrii Ustinov, KGB chief Yurii Andropov, and CC International Department head Boris Ponomarev, provides a strikingly candid assessment of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan that the Soviet Politburo confronted in spring 1979. The report attributes the increasing success of the Islamic opposition (i.e., the Afghan Mujaheddin) to the “miscalculations and mistakes” of the PDPA (People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan) regime that seized power following the April 1978 “revolution.”

  • April 14, 1979

    Report of the chief of the Soviet military advisory group in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. L.N. Gorelov, with H. Amin (excerpt)

    Report of the chief of the Soviet military advisory group in Afghanistan, Lt. Gen. L.N. Gorelov, with H. Amin (excerpt) describing Amin’s request for further military aid from the Soviet Union.

  • April 21, 1979

    Protocol #150 of the CC CPSU Politburo Session, 21 April 1979

    Concerns helicopter and ammunition deliveries from the Soviet Union to Afghanistan.

  • May 24, 1979

    CPSU CC Protocol #152/159, 24 May 1979, and Instructions to Soviet Ambassador in Afghanistan

    CPSU CC Politburo protocol approving of additional military assistance for Afghanistan. Also includes instruction to the Soviet Ambassador in Afghanistan to visit Taraki and inform him that the Soviet Union will be sending military aid but no Soviet crews and troops

  • June 09, 1979

    Record of Conversation Between Soviet Ambassador A.M. Puzanov and Taraki

    Record of Conversation Between Soviet Ambassador A.M. Puzanov and Taraki about a possible meeting between Pakistan’s Zia-ul-Haq and Taraki

  • June 13, 1979

    Notes from a Conversation with the General Secretary of the Central Committee [CC] of the NDPA [National Democratic Party of Afghanistan], Chairman of the Revolutionary Council of the DRA [Democratic Republic of Afghanistan] - N. M. Taraki

    Memo from a conversation between the USSR Minister of Education - V. P. Eliutin- and N. M. Taraki detailing the results of the educational exchange established between Afghanistan and the USSR, and outlining new possibilities for sending Afghani university students to study in the USSR. The meeting has taken place on May 30, 1979.

  • June 28, 1979

    Draft instructions to the Soviet Ambassador in Kabul with Appeal of the CC CPSU Politburo to the CC PDPA Politburo

    Members of the CC CPSU summarize the political instability in Afghanistan, pointing to collective leadership in government and to the military as stabilizing the political situation.

  • June 29, 1979

    Excerpt from Minutes Nº 156 of the CC CPSU Politburo meeting

    This document discusses the situations in Kabul with the CC CPSU and the CC PDPA.

  • July 10, 1979

    Record of Conversation Between Soviet Ambassador A.M. Puzanov and Taraki

    Record of Conversation Between Soviet Ambassador A.M. Puzanov and Taraki discussing Afghanistan’s relations with Pakistan and Soviet aid to Afghanistan

  • July 19, 1979

    Boris Ponomarev, Reports from Kabul (excerpts)

    Boris Ponomarev, Reports from Kabul (excerpts) discussing Taraki’s desire to have increased military support from the Soviet Union in the form of the presence of troops

  • July 21, 1979

    Record of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Afghanistan A.M. Puzanov and H. Amin

    Record of Conversation between Soviet Ambassador to Afghanistan A.M. Puzanov and H. Amin in which Amin asks for Soviet troops to be flown in on helicopters and Puzanov reiterates that the Soviet Union cannot send in military personnel