Why did the USSR invade Afghanistan?

Afghanistan is in the south of Asia. Today's border countries Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan belonged to the Soviet Union until 1991.


Afghanistan had been a republic since 1973. In 1978 the Communist People's Democratic Party of Afghanistan came to power. She proclaimed the People's Democratic Republic. The new government tried an education and land reform. Only Muhammad Taraki became prime minister. In September 1979 his colleague in the revolution, Hafizullah Amin, forced him to resign and took over the presidency himself.
But there was resistance to the new People's Republic. Islamist mujahideen groups formed and fought against the communist government. A civil war broke out.

The invasion

The Soviet Union feared that Amin might turn to the United States for help because of the civil war. On December 27, 1979, the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. The political and military leadership was eliminated and Amin was murdered. Babrak Karmal, who was close to the Soviet Union, became the new president. By 1988, more than a hundred thousand Soviet soldiers were stationed in Afghanistan.

The reactions

The occupation was condemned internationally. But there was also fierce resistance in the country itself. The USA and Saudi Arabia supported the mujahideen in their struggle with financial means. Because of the invasion, many countries boycotted the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow. The Soviet Union, for its part, boycotted the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.


The fight was brutal. Outside the cities, the Soviets did not gain control of the areas. With the election of Gorbachev as the new General Secretary, the Afghanistan policy of the Soviet Union changed. He initiated the withdrawal, which took place in 1989.
A million people died in the war and five million people fled. However, the withdrawal of the Soviet Union did not bring order to the country, but rather resulted in a new civil war.