“We have lost a lot of both material and human resources” – a war veteran, a historian and a representative of the security forces argue what the USSR cost the Afghan war

A number of intra-state coups in Afghanistan culminated in the April Revolution (1978), as a result of which the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan has now embarked on a course of socialism. The main opponents of the socialist system were radical Islamists, who declared the new authorities jihad (holy war). Armed insurgency organized by the Mujahideen took place in the country. The Afghan government turned to Moscow for help. Leonid Brezhnev and other members of the Politburo spoke out against armed intervention. But the decision had to be changed when the situation near the borders of the USSR began to deteriorate. On December 12, 1979, the Central Committee of the CPSU adopted a resolution on the entry of Soviet troops into Afghanistan.

Soviet soldiers were embroiled in an alien civil war and became active participants. What cost not only the Soviet Union, but the whole world an international conflict? His opinions are shared by a war veteran, a historian and a representative of power structures.

Alexander Zhuk, a participant in the military events in Afghanistan:

My agenda came before the due. Not at the end of April and not at the beginning of May, as it usually happened, but on March 13th. It was 1982. 18-year-old, I was sent to Ashgabat in a training center, and after – in Kandahar. As I remember, from there on the TU-154, fancy demobels arrived, hung with medals: “Do not be afraid – everything will be fine! Fight with dignity – do not let us down! ”They said. We flew to Kandahar on the same plane. Civilian conductors served us juice. What was there to worry about?

From the airport we went to the tent camp, which was located in the steppe near Kandahar. The headquarters built us. The officers of each battalion took the soldiers into their company. They chose mostly countrymen. I got into the 56th Brigade, which was attached to the 70th Regiment of a separate B. Khmelnitsky motorized rifle brigade. Our battalion served side by side with an infantry regiment, with which we went to raids.

I was assigned to the second airborne company. Statewide, there should have been 107 soldiers. But the companies were not constantly manned: the soldiers died, were injured, had jaundice. In general, each company had no more than 60 people. I, the sergeant, was appointed the squad leader. In the platoon, we had three BMP-2 combat vehicles — one for each unit. In the “training” we saw only the BMP-1. And all because a lot of the new military equipment was tested in Afghanistan. But the machine did not give a new one – I got it from an unknown demob.

On the second day of my stay in Kandahar during the conduct of the political officer Borovikov (I’ll see the first lieutenant only two times: now, and then dead in the coffin), the classes declared alarming. A convoy of freemen (trucks carrying fuel) was shot at in the danger zone of Zielonka. Usually, after the “training” they gave a month of “quarantine”, but the battle was serious, any help was important, so everyone went. The driver-mechanic of our combat vehicle was a Ukrainian, Sasha Kondratyuk, who had served for at least a year and a half. He put me in the tower as a gunner operator and said on the radio what to do and when. The voice of an experienced soldier, sounding in the headset, pacified panic. Kondratyuk said to look in the sight of dushmans, especially those with grenade launchers, they are the most dangerous. The next car with us hit. The driver mechanic died on the spot. It was necessary to drive out the technique. Sanya asked if I could drive. I moved to his place, and he moved to the one with the wounded crew. And we headed further along the route … The battle then lasted until darkness.

The mechanic driver of the BPM-2 A. Kondratyuk (left) and the gunner-operator A. Zhuk are preparing for a military raid. Spring, 1983.

So I passed the baptism of fire. It was scary. The technique was ablaze in the fire. Bullets bounced around the tower every now and then, but this is nonsense. Much more dangerous than a grenade launcher that burns through armor instantly! Our crew was personally convinced of this. Then I was only a month away from the demobilization: in fact, in terms of the service life, I should not have gone on a raid. But still. We escorted a KAMAZ convoy on armored vehicles. By that time, I had already become deputy platoon commander. The crew of the car – 10 people. We accompanied the column. There were two in the tower: I and the platoon commander, Senior Lieutenant Tyrkov (originally from Omsk). The driver-mechanic gave a young – Ukrainian by the name of Perebeynos. We went on patrol – this is a group that goes a mile ahead of the main one. Usually dushmans do not touch her. But then something went wrong. We were beaten at close range from 50 meters. One of the cumulative shells hit our tower. The blow fell on the side of Tyrkov – his right leg was torn off. My hands burned, my face. The eyes were saved due to the fact that I looked into the scope. We also made some shots towards the enemy. The connection with our mechanic was lost, so I, despite the shelling, climbed out of the tower and began to knock on the hatch so that the Nose (as we called it among ourselves) slid to the side – the column needed to move on. We pulled Tyrkov. As I remember, he was covered in blood. Our armor was burning, and in the car was a set of 500 shells. I shout: “Open the landing! The boys do not climbs. Probably, their contusion! “. All in a ditch, lay down, legs crossed to himself. Seconds later, our armor exploded – all 20 tons! All survived. We were immediately covered by the infantry fighting vehicles following us. We had injections “Promidol” – a painkiller, which we immediately introduced to the platoon. I also pricked myself, right through the clothes. After came the main part, the battle gradually subsided. Soon we were taken away by the turntables to be taken to the hospital.

Now I analyze why it happened. In my chain, I drove the second. To stop the movement, spooks usually beat into the first carriage. And here it was not so. Usually we covered the rooms with clay, but not this time – we relaxed. I am almost certain that we were taking revenge for our relatives – the dushmans considered it their duty.

“You get used to the war very quickly. You don’t even think about death. Self-preservation instinct wakes up only a couple of months before the demobilization.

We were told that we should help the Afghan people. The local population really lived behind. People huddled in clay villages. The houses were heated “in a black way”: sometimes it was just a fire in the middle of the dwelling, from the smoke of which people had tears. They did not plow the land with a plow, but with a plow. The grain was threshed with chains. We often treated local kids with canned food, condensed milk, or chocolate – almost always they were hungry. The locals called us shuravi askar, which meant a Russian soldier. “Shuravi ascar” after all, they spent both water and light. But it all exploded. And ours started anew … I think if it were not for these bombings, the USSR would have been able to give a lot to this people.

Why did the Soviet Union send in its troops? I think I wanted to strengthen the southern borders. After all, there was a cold war with the United States. And everything indicated that America was involved in the conflict: there were many African Americans among the terrorists, Stingers (American anti-aircraft missiles) shot down many of our airplanes and helicopters, paid mercenaries with dollars … would be the United States. And, although now they are trying to restore order there, I am almost sure that the war in Afghanistan cannot be stopped.

Lilia Sidorko, historian:

Now many are arguing over who and why decided to introduce Soviet troops in Afghanistan. By the way, in December 1979, the landing force from Vitebsk was the first to storm the palace of Amin. According to the basic version, entering the war, the USSR tried to stop the incoming drug traffic. In fact, the cultivation of poppy in Afghanistan since ancient times was the main source of income – this business flourished there at all times. Afghanistan, Pakistan … And then – the famous golden triangle between Laos, Thailand and Myanmar, where heroin was mass produced. One way or another, drugs and money spawned terror.

In the XIX century, the British twice launched a war with Afghanistan. Yes, they stopped the conflict and had to leave quietly. But the entire military contingent was confused. And the terrain, and the Taliban, and their methods of struggle – there is death awaiting at every turn. Therefore, I think it was a mistake to get involved in the Afghan conflict.

“We have lost a lot of both material and human resources.

Even on the eve of serious changes for the USSR. I think the Union has withdrawn troops from Afghanistan on time. I remember now: our people felt a great relief. But there is still a tacit war, but against the Americans. And now even the United States of America cannot peacefully leave from there in order, so to speak, not to lose face in the face of the whole world.

According to my friend who was in Afghanistan both in those war times and now, if the Afghans themselves used to be skeptical about “shuravi” (Soviet soldiers), now they are not without due respect.

But be that as it may, many people died. The Afghan conflict is yet another proof that if the revolution can still do without victims, then the war is in any way. Because this is an extreme method of struggle, no matter what.

Evgeny Shishko, head of the separate group (Zelva district) of the Slonim united military commissariat:

Terrorism is no longer a local problem of individual states. He transformed into an international threat. Unfortunately, it should be recognized that the times when terrorism was perceived by the majority of Belarusians as something far away, having nothing to do with us, are a thing of the past. We cannot ignore the fact that our state is located at the junction of transit routes of illegal migration, including from countries with heightened terrorist activity. Even traditionally neutral states, which believe that the source of terrorism is far from them, cannot feel safe.

“Terrorism cannot be defeated only by military means.

Even the most severe repressive measures are not able to completely end him until the causes and conditions causing it are eliminated. Humanity must take a decisive step in eliminating the socio-economic, political, spiritual, national, religious and psychological causes of terrorism. Their elimination is a long-term task, in the solution of which all or at least the most influential states of the world should take part.

Catherine SERGEY

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