25 December 2009, 17:39

Boris Gromov: "This date unites all people who were there"

On December 25, the servicemen of Russia and other former Soviet republics mark the 30 th anniversary since the Soviet Union sent in troops to Afghanistan. It was the beginning of 10-year long military campaign which unofficially was called "the Afghan war".

On December 25, the servicemen of Russia and other former Soviet republics mark the 30th anniversary since the Soviet Union sent in troops to Afghanistan. It was the beginning of 10-year long military campaign which unofficially was called "the Afghan war".

Now when we look at that war we see that a lot of things were unclear from the start. The troops were sent under the treaty on mutual aid signed between the USSR and Afghanistan. The Soviet government received a request from Afghan leaders Nur Muhammad Taraki and than Hafizullah Amin, who came to power in September. They believed that bringing Soviet troops to the country would help to fight Islamic opposition which had become active again after the Islamic revolution in neighboring Iran. Amin welcomed the entry of the Soviet troops. However two days later, on December 27, during an assault on the Tajbek palace in the suburb of Kabul by KGB's Alpha Group, he was killed. Babrak Karmal, leader of the oppositional faction who was in exile in Moscow, became the new Afghan president. His message on the fall of the anti-national regime, recorded in advance in Moscow, was broadcast in the country. "The Storming" operation was over.

It is still unclear why the KGB killed the Afghan politician who was loyal to Moscow. Though later Amin was labeled as a CIA agent because under his short rule the influence of the US became stronger in the country.

Witnesses of the entry of the Soviet troops say that in some cities Afghan people met the Soviet soldiers with flowers. But quite soon the Soviet soldiers faced a mighty counter-offensive by a well-trained rebel army. Beside the UK, the US also Pakistan, Egypt and China provided money and weapons to the rebel army whose numbers grew to 120,000 servicemen in 1985 from 40,000 in 1983. After 6 years of war the Soviet armed forces commander, Marshal Sergei Akhromeev admitted that the Afghan government had failed to gain control over the country except for Kabul and provincial administrative centers. In November 1986 the Soviet government decided to withdraw troops within two years. This process began in April 1988 when under the mediation of the UN and Switzerland, an agreement on the settlement of the situation relating to Afghanistan were signed. Then the USSR and the US acted as guarantors on the agreement.  On February 15, 1989 the last column of the Soviet troops left Afghanistan crossing the border bridge across the Amu Darya river. This column became a symbol of the end of the Afghan war. The last who brought up the rear of this column was Commander of the 40th army General Boris Gromov. Today he is sure that the entry of the Soviet troops to Afghanistan was a mistake:

"For those who took part in the Afghan campaign this date (December 25) is more notable than the date of the withdrawal of troops. We have many reasons for that. First of all it is 100% that we should not have done it. But the decision was made. For everyone who served in Afghanistan in the beginning, in the middle and in the end of campaign, this date brings back memories of that difficult and important time when they experienced many things including losses of friends and close people.  This date on the one hand unites all those who were involved in that campaign, and on the other hand, it is a reminder to next generations".     

 

 

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