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Digital Archive International History Declassified

March 10, 1983


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    CPSU CC Politburo transcript discussing continuing progress towards stabilization in Afghanistan but also continuing difficulties in the situation.
    "CPSU CC transcript of Politburo meeting (excerpt)," March 10, 1983, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, TsKhSD, f. 89 per. 42, dok. 51; provided by M. Kramer; trans. by D. Rozas.
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10 March 1983

Chairman: comr. ANDROPOV Yu.V.
Present: comrs. Aliev G.A., Gorbachev M.S., Gromyko A.A., Pel'she A. Ya., Tikhonov N.A., Chernenko K.U., Demichev P.N., Dolgikh V.I., Kuznetsov V.V., Solomentsev M.S., Kapitonov I.V., and Ryzhkov N.I.


6. On the situation in Afghanistan and additional measures towards its improvement.

GROMYKO. In accordance with the resolution of the Politburo, a group of high-ranking party, soviet, military and production management officials traveled to Afghanistan. This group put in some good work there. They put together a set of proposals for the further stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan. We examined these proposals during meetings of the CC Politburo Commission on Afghanistan. These proposals contain problems that must be decided in the immediate future by both the Afghan and the Soviet sides. Financially speaking, this will cost approximately 300 mln. rubles in the course of three years. This is a large, yet minimum sum, and it seems that we should make this expenditure.

On the whole, the situation in Afghanistan is, as you know, difficult. Lately, certain elements of consolidation have been examined, but the process of consolidation is moving slowly. The number of gangs [rebel groups] is not decreasing. The enemy is not laying down its weapons. The negotiations with Pakistan in Geneva are moving slowly and with difficulty. This is why we must do everything to find a mutually acceptable political settlement. In advance, it can already be said that this process will be a lengthy one. There are questions which must be discussed separately. One should only keep in mind that for now we cannot give Pakistan consent on concrete time periods for the withdrawal of our troops from the country. We must exercise caution here. Yes, the situation is stabilizing. It is good that the Afghan army has grown to 140 thousand. But the main trouble is that the central authorities have not yet reached the countryside: [they] rarely interact with the masses, about one third of the districts is not under the control of the central authority, and one can feel the fragility of the state government.

In closing, I would like to say that evidently we need to take the steps which are outlined in the recommendations given to you for examination. It seems that it will be necessary to hold a meeting with Karmal and a group of leading officials of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan sometime in April. It seems that it would also be expedient for Yu. V. Andropov to meet personally with Babrak Karmal.

TIKHONOV. When speaking of 300 mln. rubles, this refers to free assistance.

ANDROPOV. You remember how arduously and cautiously we decided the question of deploying troops in Afghanistan. L.I. Brezhnev insisted on a roll call vote by the members of the Politburo. The question was examined in the CC Plenum.

In deciding the Afghan problem we must proceed from existing realities. What do you want? This is a feudal country where tribes have always been in charge of their territories, and the central authority was far from always able to reach each Kishlak [an Afghan district]. The problem is not in Pakistan's position. We are fighting against American imperialism which well understands that in this part of international politics it has lost its positions. That is why we cannot back off.

Miracles don't happen. Sometimes we are angry at the Afghans because they act illogically and work slowly. But let us remember our fight with basmatchism [banditry]. Why, back then, almost the entire Red Army was concentrated in Central Asia, yet the fight with basmatchi continued up until the mid-1930's. And so in our relations with Afghanistan there must be both demands and understanding.

As concerns the recommendations of the Commission, are they not a little imposing with exact instructions as to what should be done by the Afghan side and by ours?

GROMYKO. Of course we will work to complete the recommendations.

ANDROPOV. Yes, so that it should be a political document. It must be much more flexible.

PONOMAREV. We will complete these materials.

ANDROPOV. Evidently we do need these talks with Karmal. It will probably be advantageous to hold them in two rounds; moreover, my discussion with Karmal should be organized last.


ANDROPOV. Then, perhaps we will make the following decision: To agree with the findings reported by the Politburo Commission on Afghanistan and accept the expediency of holding discussions with B. Karmal and a group of other leading officials of the People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan in March-April of this year. At the same time we can ratify the draft resolution of the USSR Council of Ministers on giving additional economic assistance to the Afghan Republic.

The resolution is approved.

7. On the Afghan-Pakistan negotiations on the questions of political settlement

ANDROPOV. It seems that the question is clear.

GROMYKO. The Afghans, of course, must be given materials which would give them the ability to prepare well for the negotiations.

PONOMAREV. They very much need these materials.

ANDROPOV. Then let us approve the resolution.

The resolution is approved.


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