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The Soviet-Afghan War was an example of an "old game with a new twist" during the Cold War. The Soviet Union failed to prevent the mujahideen from establishing safe havens in Afghanistan, killing at least 25,000 Afghans. The Soviet Union failed to stop the spread of jihadi ideology and the mujahideen's ability to organize and operate independently. The war ended because the Soviet Union ran out of money to continue its war effort.
Land mines killed 25,000 Afghans
The presence of land mines has been said to have been one of the most significant deterrents to refugees returning to their home country. As the war rages on, the death toll of civilians will rise as more people try to leave the country.
Thousands of Afghan civilians have been killed by land mines laid by Soviet forces and the Kabul regime. According to reports, as many as 3 million land mines are still in operation in Afghanistan, it is likely that thousands more will fall victim as the Soviets withdraw.
The Soviet response to the war in Afghanistan was brutal. More than 1.5 million people died, and millions of others were forced to flee to neighboring countries such as Iran and Pakistan. The war left Afghanistan devastated and systemically impoverished, with millions of Afghans displaced. Land mines were a major factor, with many of them left unexploded.
As part of the war, the Soviet Union deployed Mi-24 helicopters and increased its military advisers to 3,000. The Soviet Union also sent a special commission to assess the situation in Afghanistan. Its members included former KGB chairman Yuri Andropov, Boris Ponomarev from the Central Committee and Dmitriy Ustinov, the Soviet Minister of Defence. These members found that Amin was purging his political opponents and that his loyalty to Moscow was being questioned. They also said that Amin was seeking to establish diplomatic ties with Pakistan. Sadly, these meetings never resulted in any agreements.
Soviet Union failed to deny sanctuary to mujahideen
The Soviet Union failed to deny sanctuary to the mujahideen in the Soviet-Afghan War, despite the fact that they engaged in mass killings of civilians. Soviet soldiers used chemical weapons, booby traps, and land mines to kill civilians and eliminate support. This depopulation strategy resulted in a large number of civilian casualties and alienated the population from the Soviets.
In December 1979, the Soviet Union invaded the Democratic Republic of Afghanistan with a coup de main. They were hoping that the presence of Soviet forces would calm down the Mujahideen and allow the communist government to suppress the insurgency. However, they failed to understand the nature of Mujahideen resistance and were unable to adequately counter their insurgency.
The Soviet Union launched multi-divisional offensives into the mujahideen-controlled areas of Afghanistan. Between 1980 and 1985, the Soviets launched nine offensives into the Panjshir Valley, an area of strategic importance. They also conducted intense fighting in the provinces bordering Pakistan. Mujahideen held several cities in Pakistan and the Soviets had to break these sieges regularly, but the mujahideen would return again after the Soviets had departed. The resistance was never stopped and cities like Herat and Kandahar remained a hub for resistance and continued to resist the Soviets.
It was a "fresh twist" on the "Great Game"
The Soviet-Afghan War is a classic example of a "fresh twist" to the "Great Game." It changed the nature of warfare by challenging the "great game" itself. In addition to creating new forms of political participation, it also weakened the Soviet Union and its legitimacy. It also changed the media landscape and contributed to the rise of the "new" political parties in both countries.
The Soviet-Afghan War began in late December 1979 when Soviet ground forces began to enter the country from the north. The Soviets were led by the 40th Army and included the 108th and 5th Guards Motor Rifle Divisions, the 860th Separate Motor Rifle Regiment, and the 36th and 58th Airborne Divisions.
As the Soviets advanced into Afghanistan, they systematically destroyed civilian villages to eliminate the Mujahideen and their supporters. They used a variety of tactics including a mass killing of civilians, booby traps, mines, and chemical weapons. The resulting conflict alienated the population from the Soviets.
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