The Soviet Invasion


The USSR got involved in a War in Afghanistan

  • In 1978, a civil war broke out in Afghanistan and rebels were protesting at new radical reforms brought in by the Afghan communist government, which had close ties to the Soviet Union
  • The Afghan government requested help from the USSR, which invaded Afghanistan in December 1979
  • The USSR used the Brezhnev Doctrine to justify the invasion.  It was also concerned by the idea of an anti-Soviet government in Afghanistan, as the countries shared a border
  • This decision turned out to be a disaster and the USSR found itself in a seemingly unwinnable conflict
  • It had to fight in difficult mountainous terrain against determined opposition, who were supplied with weapons by the USA
1 of 3

The War was a disaster for the USSR

  • 15,000 Soviet troops were killed and the government spent huge amounts of money, but the USSR couldn't win
  • The Soviet-Afghan War led to a loss of public support in the USSR for the communist regime.  The Soviet people were angry at falling living standards, which had deteriorated as a direct result of high spending in Afghanistan.  When Gorbachev came to power in 1985, he admitted that the USSR couldn't afford to keep fighting.  In 1988, he began withdrawing Soviet troops from Afghanistan
  • The war was an embarassment for Brezhnev and undermined the USSR's strong military reputation, which was essential for keeping its satellite states under control
  • In January 1980, the UN condemned the invasion and it proposed a resolution demanding Soviet withdrawal, but the resolution was rejected by the USSR
  • In 1980, the USA and over 50 other countries boycotted the Moscow Olympic Games, in protest at the Soviet-Afghan War
2 of 3

The Superpowers began to Move Away from Detente

  • The war caused tension between the USSR and the USA to resurface, making the situation as dangerous as ever
  • Soviet intervention in Afghanistan was interpreted by the USA as an act of communist expansionism.  In 1979, US President Jimmy Carter was so alarmed he stopped the SALT 2 Treaty being debated by the US Senate, meaning it could never come into effect.  Instead he called for an increase in the defence budget
  • The USA was also worried that the USSR was trying to gain influence in the Persian Guld, close to the Afghan border.  The oil-rich area had formed close economic ties with the West, and Carter thought Soviet influence in Afghanistan threatened US interests there
  • Carter warned that the USA would use force to prevent the USSR from gaining control of the Gulf region.  This warning became known as the Carter Doctrine.  The Carter Doctrine was the first threat of aggression between the superpowers since detente.  
3 of 3


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all The Cold War resources »