Oct 10, 2021 • 28M

The end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan

Discussing the Peshawar Seven, ISI, CIA, and Najibullah's Afghan government with Sudarshan Garg

Open in playerListen on);

Appears in this episode

Shaunak Agarkhedkar
Espionage& narrates famous and not-so-famous stories of real spies from around the world. This podcast complements an espionage-focused Substack at espionage.substack.com
Episode details

The Soviet Union withdrew its troops from Afghanistan by 15 February 1989, with their commander General Boris Gromov leading the last units across the Friendship Bridge over the Amu Darya river.

John Paul Newman on Twitter: "General Boris Gromov crossing the 'Friendship  Bridge' into Uzbekistan, 15 February, 1989 - the last Soviet soldier to leave  Afghanistan.… https://t.co/lJyijXIUmQ"
General Boris Gromov on the Friendship bridge,15 February 1989

What they left behind was an Afghan government of Mohammad Najibullah Ahmadzai. The ISI and the CIA expected it to fall within weeks. It didn’t.

Continuing from where we left off during the previous episode — Panjshir, Afghanistan: Resistance then and now — this week Sudarshan and I take a look at the last days of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, and its immediate aftermath.

The Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan 1989 | National Security Archive
Soviet column rolling across the Friendship bridge

Suggested reading

If you’d like to find out more about this period, Sudarshan and I recommend the following books:

  1. Massoud an intimate potrait by Marcella Grad

  2. The Bear went over the mountain and its companion piece, the other side of the mountain both by Lester Grau

  3. The great gamble by Gregory Fiefer

  4. Ghost Wars by Steven Coll

  5. On Afghanistan's plains by Jules Stewart (on the British wars in Afghanistan)

If you’ve enjoyed listening to this podcast, please share it with your friends, and consider subscribing to Espionage& for free using the button below.

You might also enjoy reading my spy novels: Let Bhutto Eat Grass & Let Bhutto Eat Grass: Part 2 deal with nuclear weapons espionage in 1970s India, Pakistan, and Europe.