The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Analysis and Chronology

The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Analysis and Chronology

The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Analysis and Chronology

The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan: Analysis and Chronology


This reference analyzes and chronicles the Soviet occupation of and withdrawal from Afghanistan in the period from 1973 to 1990 by an observer in the area who relied on a variety of sources and cross-checked them carefully. The analysis of events leading to the Soviet withdrawal covers the important negotiations and relates them to historic changes taking place in the Soviet Union and in its relationship to the rest of the world. The detailed chronology occupies the main portion of the book. An index makes this indispensable reference tool easily accessible to researchers and students in various fields.


This study is a chronology of the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. The study focuses on the events that led to the Soviet withdrawal, marking the first time in the seventy-two-year history of the Soviet Union that it left a country after a sustained occupation.

This project developed first during the two years beginning in 1988 when I was in Islamabad, Pakistan, on a Fulbright grant studying Pakistani politics. However, since Islamabad was one of the principal negotiating sites for bringing about the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan, my attention turned increasingly to events in Afghanistan a few miles away. I spent my time observing or talking to diplomats, journalists and others gathered to study or to influence events in Afghanistan.

Recognizing that information in the field is often unreliable, I cross-referenced data whenever possible in order to provide an accurate picture and an honest description of events as they occurred. At first, stories about the degree of destruction that came out of Afghanistan seemed unbelievable and incorrect. However, they gained validity as it became clear that resistance forces, with the help of outside support, were able to wreck massive damage on the Kabul government and Soviet forces outside the major urban centers. This was facilitated as men and material could pass along only two or three main roads. When possible, information was later checked with Soviet data after the final withdrawal.

The study relied on multiple sources emanating from the international press, and agencies and government organs that documented events in Afghanistan.

This history and chronology are intended for students of Soviet foreign policy, Afghanistan affairs, the politics of Central-Asia and for those interested in the affairs of state and diplomatic history.

I owe thanks to the United States Education Foundation in Pakistan and to its Executive Director, Dr. Peter Dodd, for the administration of my fellowship and the support extended in the completion of this study. For fostering my curiosity, I would also like to thank those at the Area Study Center of Quaid-i-Azam University espeically Dr. Rais Ahmed Khan and Dr. Bukhsh Rais. Those I met in South Asia with an interest in the Afghan crisis are too many to mention. However, I am indebted to them for their insights and their discussions that helped to define and formulate my own understanding of events.

Finally but not least, I want to thank my wife, Cindy, for joining me in South Asia and tolerating the rigors of life away from family, friends and familiar places and customs. Without her stamina, support and assistance, this project would not have been as successful.

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