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

  • Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Beach Classroom, Giant Eye, Trench Puppies

    Cherry blossoms in Germany, Fashion Week in Madrid, an island castle in Switzerland, Ramadan prayers in Mecca, a volcanic eruption in the Caribbean, a comfort dog at the U.S. Capitol, and much more

  • Luis Tato for The Washington Post

    Winners of the 2021 World Press Photo Contest

    Some of the winning entries in this year’s annual photo competition

  • Fabrice Coffrini / AFP / Getty

    Protecting Crops Against a Spring Frost

    Images of a widespread battle against the cold in France, Italy, Belgium, and Switzerland

  • Gabriel Bouys / AFP / Getty

    Photos of the Week: Plastic Lake, Van Cat, Burning Judas

    Ballet in an empty Syrian market, a forest fire in California, a briefing by the Easter Bunny in the White House, riots in Northern Ireland, a giant sand dune in France, and much more