The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (by Artemy Kalinovsky, University of Amsterdam)

Date: 14 July 2011
PDF version
Location: Aga Khan Humanities Project (AKHP), Dushanbe, Tajikistan

The conflict in Afghanistan looms large in the collective consciousness of Americans. What has the United States achieved, and how will it withdraw without sacrificing those gains? The Soviet Union confronted these same questions in the 1980s, and Artemy Kalinovsky’s history of the USSR’s nine-year struggle to extricate itself from Afghanistan and bring its troops home provides a sobering perspective on exit options in the region.

Newly available archival material, supplemented by interviews with major actors, allows Kalinovsky to reconstruct the fierce debates among Soviet diplomats, KGB officials, the Red Army, and top Politburo figures. The fear that withdrawal would diminish the USSR’s status as leader of the Third World is palpable in these disagreements, as are the competing interests of Afghan factions and the Soviet Union’s superpower rival in the West. This book challenges many widely held views about the actual costs of the conflict to the Soviet leadership, and its findings illuminate the Cold War context of a military engagement that went very wrong, for much too long.

Artemy Kalinovsky is Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam and Research Associate at the Cold War Studies Programme at the London School of Economics and Politic Science. He has a PhD and an MA in International History from the London School of Economics and Political Science and a BA from the George Washington University. He is the author of A Long Goodbye: The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan (Harvard University Press, 2011) and co-editor, with Sergey Radchenko, of The End of the Cold War and the Third World (Routledge: 2011).

The presentation will be conducted in English. Russian translation will be provided upon prior request.

University of Central Asia, Room 101, 47a Druzhba Narodov, Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Please RSVP to with your name and affiliation. Please indicate if you require Russian translation.

* The views presented in this lecture are those of the presenter and not necessarily those of the University of Central Asia or any of its staff.

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