The Soviet War in Afghanistan, 1979 - 1989

Nearly twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union pulled its last troops out of Afghanistan, ending more than nine years of direct involvement and occupation. The USSR entered neighboring Afghanistan in 1979, attempting to shore up the newly-established pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. In short order, nearly 100,000 Soviet soldiers took control of major cities and highways. Rebellion was swift and broad, and the Soviets dealt harshly with the Mujahideen rebels and those who supported them, leveling entire villages to deny safe havens to their enemy. Foreign support propped up the diverse group of rebels, pouring in from Iran, Pakistan, China, and the United States. In the brutal nine-year conflict, an estimated one million civilians were killed, as well as 90,000 Mujahideen fighters, 18,000 Afghan troops, and 14,500 Soviet soldiers. Civil war raged after the withdrawal, setting the stage for the Taliban's takeover of the country in 1996. As NATO troops move toward their final withdrawal this year, Afghans worry about what will come next, and Russian involvement in neighboring Ukraine's rebellion has the world's attention, it is worth looking back at the Soviet-Afghan conflict that ended a quarter-century ago. Today's entry is part of the ongoing series here on Afghanistan.

Read more
Hints: View this page full screen. Skip to the next and previous photo by typing j/k or ←/→.

Most Recent

  • Abhishek N. Chinnappa / Reuters

    The Flying Machines of Flugtag

    Since 1992, Red Bull has been organizing Flugtag (“flying day”) events around the world, where participants build and pilot homemade flying machines off a 28-foot-high flight deck above a body of water. The aerodynamic qualities of many of the creatively built aircraft are questionable, and most do not so much fly as... plummet.

  • Arnd Wiegmann / Reuters

    Photos of the Week: 7/18-7/24

    An embrace in a Kenyan village, Swan Upping in England, tragedy in southern Turkey, a kangaroo hopping through a frosty field in Australia, South Korea’s longest water slide ever, Hellsing cosplay in Brazil, naked tree-hugging in Berkeley, California, and much more.

  • NOAA / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), U.S. Department of Commerce.

    Images of the Ocean Blue: Photographs From NOAA

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is an American scientific agency with roots that reach back to 1807. Over the years, NOAA has amassed a sizable library of photographs, some of which I’ve selected here.

  • Toshifumi Kitamura / AFP / Getty

    Hot Summer Days

    Images of people and animals trying to beat the heat across the Northern Hemisphere.

Join the Discussion