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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)

  • December 10, 1979

    Summary of a meeting on Afghanistan

    A meeting between CC CPSU officials demonstrates the disagreement over Soviet involvement in Afghanistan.

  • December 12, 1979

    CC CPSU Politburo Resolution # 176/125, Concerning the Situation in "A" [Afghanistan]

    The decree is on the situation in Afghanistan.

  • December 24, 1979

    Directive Nº 312/12/001 of 24 December 1979 signed by Ustinov and Ogarkov

    Directive signed by Ustinov and Ogarkov approving a contingent of Soviet military forces to stabilize the intra-party disagreements.

  • December 26, 1979

    Summary of a CC CPSU Meeting

    A summary of CC CPSU officials regarding the recently approved Soviet troop deployment in Afghanistan.

  • December 27, 1979

    CPSU CC Memo with attachments, 27 December 1979, on Politburo Protocol #177

    The memo concerns Soviet steps on ties with the development of the situation around Afghanistan.

  • December 27, 1979

    Letter from Leonid Brezhnev to Karmal Babrak, Attachment to CPSU Politburo Protocol #177

    A congratulatory note from L. Brezhnev to Karmal Babrak,Chairman of the Revolutionary Council, General Secretary of the PDPA CC, and Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan, thanking Babrak for his efforts to defend the gains made in the April Revolution.

  • December 27, 1979

    Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union Announcement, Attachment to CPSU Politburo Protocol #177

    The USSR and Afghanistan formed a permanent relationship to combat counter-revolutionaries who attempt to undo the April Revolution. This relationship began with the Treaty of Friendship in 1978.

  • December 27, 1979

    Soviet Foreign Ministry Circular to Soviet Ambassadors on the Situation in Afghanistan, Instructions for Meeting with Heads of Government

    'Outside Interference' in Afghan affairs lead Soviet officials to provide limited military aid and supplies in order to stabilize Afghanistan. Soviets, in pointing to a time-table for their involvement, stated that they would leave Afghanistan as soon as the foreign interference no longer exists.

  • December 27, 1979

    Cable to the Soviet Representative at the UN on the Development of the Situation in Afghanistan

    This document provides a statement to the UN Security Council, explaining the Soviet position on Afghanistan. The Soviets justify involvement in Afghan affairs--citing UN Article 51, which, in the context of this document, legalizes national defense efforts in response to the presence of outside forces.

  • December 27, 1979

    Message to Soviet Ambassadors on the Invasion of Afghanistan, Attachment to CPSU Politburo Decree #177

    The violent actions by the DRA, led by H. Amin, to de-stabilize the Afghan government, dissolving the gains made in the April Revolution, causes the Soviet Union to place military detachments in Afghanistan.

  • December 27, 1979

    Soviet Foreign Ministry Circular Cable to Soviet Ambassadors on the Situation in Afghanistan, Instructions for Meeting with Communist Party Leaders

    This document reveals the struggles facing Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Local individuals reacted negatively to outside Soviet involvement, which threatened to overturn the results of the April Revolution. Also, Soviets believed that the CIA, and Beijing’s leadership, were attempting to de-stabilize Afghanistan.

  • December 28, 1979

    Soviet Communication to the Hungarian Leadership on the Events in Afghanistan

    This document provides an overview of the Soviets concern regarding instability in Afghanistan. Such an unstable state of affairs was the basis for Soviet invasion into Afghanistan; Hungary's support is requested.

  • December 29, 1979

    CPSU CC Memo with Excerpt from Protocol #177/220, 29 December 1979

    This memo includes the response of Brezhnev to President Carter's address concerning Afghanistan and US-Soviet relations.

  • December 29, 1979

    Excerpt from the Minutes of the CC CPSU Politburo Meeting, 'Reply to an appeal of President Carter about the issue of Afghanistan through the direct communications channel'

    Soviet letter to US President Jimmy Carter responding to the US position on the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The CC CPSU Politburo informs the White House that the Soviet leadership desires to maintain detente with the US and that the intervention of Soviet troops was done at the request of the Afgan leadership, under Article 51 of the UN charter.

  • December 30, 1979

    Ciphered Telegram from Bulgarian Embassy in Kabul, 30 December 1979

    This document provides a statement Babrak Karmal's commitment to Afghan political party solidarity in the face of elements which attempted to de-stabilize his nation's democratic regime.

  • December 31, 1979

    Report on the Situation in Afghanistan, Gromyko, Andropov, Ustinov, and Ponomarev to CPSU CC, 27-28 December 1979

    Andropov Gromyko Ustinov Ponomarev Report on Events in Afghanistan on 27-28 December 1979 regarding the crisis in Afghanistan and the overthrow of Amin’s oppressive regime with the help of Soviet troops

  • 1980

    Soviet briefing on the need to counter-balance Yugoslav endeavors concerning the Afghan question in the non-aligned countries

    This document provides an assessment of Yugoslavia’s policy regarding non-aligned countries. The Soviet Union analyses how to counter-balance the non-alignment movement with its foreign policy. The topic of non-interference in internal political matters, and the opinion of Ghana, Kuwait, and India regarding Soviet involvement in Afghanistan are discussed.

  • 1980

    Soviet briefing on the correspondence between Tito and Brezhnev

    This document reveals correspondence between Brezhnev and Tito. Tito expresses his worries about international politics relating to NATO's decision regarding long/medium range missiles, and advocates for Soviet troop withdrawal from Afghanistan. Brezhnev emphasizes the ideological and pragmatic importance of Soviet involvement in the Middle East, and discusses the role of NATO in Europe.

  • January 04, 1980

    Note from the Soviet Ambassador to Afghanistan on Radio Broadcasting Station

    The USSR ambassador to the DRA confirms the decision to build a radio broadcasting station.

  • January 04, 1980

    Meeting of Soviet Foreign Minister Gromyko and Afghan Foreign Minister Shad Mohammad Dost, 4 January 1980

    Gromyko and Dost discuss the situation in Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and foreign relations between Afghanistan and Western countries.