Afghanistan Essay: Russian Operation In Afghanistan During The Cold War

The impact of the military conflict between the USSR and Afghanistan on the next generations of both of these countries is hard to underestimate. The ten years of violence (from 1979-1989) can’t be ignored or easily forgotten. The question remains on how these events affect global tensions today. Though the former Soviet Union republics have become independent, Russia has seen to maintain this aggressive relation toward other nations to this day.

For this purpose, an essay about Afghanistan war is an essential subject to learn for all students of history to remember the lesson our ancestors have given to us. The experts at payforwriting have prepared more history essay samples for students to understand the subject to better explain many questions to themselves.

What Drove the Soviet Union to Deploy Its Troops in Afghanistan in 1979?

While Soviet intervention in Afghanistan still remains to be a puzzling question for the citizens of Russia and former USSR republics, there is a clear understanding of the raison d’etat on the other side of the border. ‘Shuravi’ is the Dari term invented by the Afghans to distinguish Soviets, and it would later turn into a negative connotation for Russian invaders. Unlike the glorified veterans of World War II, survivors of the Afghan operation have been deliberately forgotten as a shameful page in imperialistic history. When soldiers do not know the reason they are fighting, there is a high risk of losing the battle. What were the motives behind the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan? And what price has been paid for such a decision?

Many experts agree that the Soviet Union, as a successor of Tsarist Russia and its imperialistic ambitions, had been considering Afghanistan as a gateway to the warm water ports of the Indian Ocean (Nawaz Khan). The Anglo-Russian rivalry in the 19th and early 20th centuries known as the “Great Game” has shaped a long-term quest for acquiring access to the southern sea (Dimitrakis). However, it was not merely an issue of geostrategic outlet, but quite tangible perspectives of gaining control over the oil flow in the Persian Gulf and further expansion towards Iran and Pakistan (Nawaz Khan).

Communist ideology was another card at stake. As the pro-Soviet People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) seized power as a result of organized Putsch in Kabul in April 1978, substantial financial and political support was needed from the Kremlin to sustain and establish communist rule in the traditionally Islamic mainland of the country (Morini).

Thirdly, the shared history and cultural heritage, ethnic background, and religion between the people of Central Asia and Afghanistan imposed a serious threat to the territorial integrity of the Soviet Union. It was noted that Afghan warriors were declared to be extremely cruel to the soldiers of Central Asian descent for their betrayal of faith and brotherhood. As time shows, the communist identity could not withstand the identity of ethnic origin. Today, such heroes of Afghanistan as Ahmad Shakh Massoud, known as the Lion of Panjshir, and Abdul Rashid Dostum, known as General Dostum, are deeply admired in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Considering the territorial proximity of Afghanistan to Soviet borders, it was a matter of geopolitical dominion over the heartland of Central Asia. By sending troops to Afghanistan, the USSR was determined to settle the question of geopolitical rivalry with the USA and China in the future. Today, we can witness the same actors playing their interests in the region, and China is also turning into a leading player. Shanghai Organization for Cooperation is a vivid example of the Chinese-Russian union for restraining separatistic tendencies within their territories and establishing mutual control over the adjacent territory known as the cradle of the Great Silk Road.

Taking into account all the explanations proposed, there comes another question: how much did the intervention in Afghanistan cost for the Soviet Union? Vast infrastructural investments in the 1970s, ideological lobbying, victims of war, a demoralized army, and the followup of the 1990s, regarding the insurgence of violent extremism and terrorism in Afghanistan, civil unrest and collapse of the big nation, accompanied by the influx of narcotics entering Russia and Europe, suggest the difficulty of counting possible gains and benefits for Moscow. Overall, there is a good lesson to remember: each imperialistic invasion has a high price to pay that can be counted only decades after.

Works Cited

Bearder, Milton. “Afghanistan, Graveyard of Empires, Foreign Affairs.” Foreign Affairs,
Dimitrakis, Panagiotis. The Secret War in Afghanistan: The Soviet Union, China and the Role of Anglo-American Intelligence. I.B. Tauris, 2013.
Fivecoat, David G. “Leaving the Graveyard: The Soviet Union’s Withdrawal from Afghanistan.” 2012.
Ghiasy, Richard. “The Evolution of Russian Geopolitical Interests in Afghanistan from Opportunity to Liability.” 2017,
Morini, Daryl. Why Did the Soviet Union Invade Afghanistan? 5 Jan. 2010,
Nawaz Khan, Khalid. “Soviet Interests in Afghanistan and Implications upon Withdrawal.” Master thesis. U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, 1990.