Why did Russia invade Afghanistan?

+75 votes
asked Feb 13, 2015 in Culture & Society by Ross (1,800 points)
I can’t imagine a country would want to occupy Afghanistan. Unless they want to invade them for oil or going after the Al Qaeda. Al Qaeda doesn’t even exist back in 1980. What did Russia planning on gaining from what Afghanistan had? Even if it’s to expand their country, it seems irrelevant that they would want a country that is essentially a landlocked wasteland.

6 Answers

+25 votes
answered Feb 14, 2015 by Pualehua (710 points)
edited Jul 27, 2015 by Kris
Russia saw the opportunity to gain a new country for themselves in Afghanistan; I guess Russia invaded Afghanistan mostly because of this. It is mostly power hungry driven operation, an easy target with the Afghanistan government backing the Russian. The then prime minister of Afghanistan, Hazifullah Amin, a pro-soviet leader, desired to westernise the population, with the prior support of the similarly pro-soviet Nur Mohammad Taraki government. They push for a radical modernization reforms throughout the country. Already in a middle of the civil war, he worsens the tension of with the majority of the Afghanistan, whom all held strong Muslim belief in the country. A pro-soviet governance means communistic ideals, a government that rejects all forms of religion, which is obviously unpopular to the majority of the population.

Oppositions are rounded up and executed, as many as 27,000 political prisoners, as the rebellion expands and pressure the government. Soon the government had lost a large portion of their territory to the rebels. In response, the Russia merrily joined the fray, being invited personally by the Afghani government, first sending a covert troop to aid the Afghani government from the shadows. On the Christmas eve of 1979, in an unprecedented move, the Russia deploys the 40th Army, occupying the capital Kabul, staging a coup, assassinate the government head leaders and a rival socialist Afghan politician replaced him, Babrak Kamal. Coupled with the fact that that Hazifullah Amin needed the backing of the Russian military to stay in power, this betrayal proves to be effortless. Now the Russians would only need to defeat one final obstacle, unfortunately, that obstacle would be the whole of Afghanistan, the rebel army of ‘Mujahdeen’ soon proved to be a formidable opponent. What Russia thought to be initially an opportunistic expansion, would only cripple their own already weak economy further, obliterated by their failure to swallow their pride, lose to their own arrogance.
commented Feb 23, 2015 by Yumiko (380 points)
learned a lot from your answer to why did Russia invade Afghanistan!
+22 votes
answered Jul 27, 2015 by ManualBerkma (600 points)
During the Cold War, Russia was doing all it could to maintain its communist power while the United States was doing what it could to end communism. So the Soviets invaded Afghanistan when an uprising started against the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan there because this threatened the communist regime. The U.S. was making headway towards the Middle East at this point, so Russia was afraid of losing a communist foothold in Afghanistan. They poured a lot of money into the country to try to keep their power there, but eventually this failed and Russia was forced to withdraw from Afghanistan anyway.
+21 votes
answered Aug 30, 2015 by CarolineFran (380 points)
The answer to “why did Russia invade Afghanistan” has nothing to do with oil, Al Qaeda or proposed expansion. Instead, it had to do with socialist policies, communist alliances and a frosty Cold War relationship between Russia and the United States of America. Russia (or the Soviet Union, as it was called back then) had signed a treaty with Afghanistan back in 1978 because they supported the new Afghani socialist government. They’d already been sending military and financial aid to Afghanistan since the mid 50’s, so the Soviet government had a continued interest in what was happening in Afghanistan. Plus, Afghanistan’s relationship with the United States of America had gone sour after the US Ambassador to Afghanistan was kidnapped by militants and then killed during a raid by the Afghan police. All of this set the stage for a stand-off between the US backed Afghan insurgents and the Soviet backed Afghan government. When the insurgents tried to overthrow the government, the Soviet army arrived on the scene to protect their “friend” and to try and  inflict strategic blows on the United States.
commented Oct 7, 2015 by BrianneStern (230 points)
Guess it is depending on who you ask when answering why did Russia invade Afghanistan.
+11 votes
answered Mar 6, 2015 by VictorinaLin (380 points)
Yeah, why did Russia invade Afghanistan? You see, Russia has always had a rather large Muslim population, so the fear of a rise in Islamic extremism was seen as a big threat when the Soviet Union was trying to stay together and keep their influence over individual countries. So Russia invaded Afghanistan in order to prevent and control the spread of pro-Islam and anti-Soviet ideas and support among the people there. This was partly in hopes to prevent the Muslims within Russia from revolting like their brethren in the nearby Middle East.
+9 votes
answered Jun 19, 2015 by XTNBrent6339 (380 points)
Basically, the decision by Russia to invade Afghanistan was all to do with politics and alliances between communist governments. In 1979 the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (known as PDPA) had a communist government that was facing challenges caused by local insurgents (the Mujahideen) who were gaining momentum in their opposition of the government. Russia was still locked in the Cold War with the United States and, at the time, the US were gaining popularity in the Middle East due to diplomatic manoeuvres in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Egypt.  Feeling the pressure, Russia decided to “help” Afghanistan (or invade, depending on who you ask). But because the insurgents were receiving international support, instead of a quick invasion, Russia found themselves locked in a decade long war that cost tens of thousands of soldiers (wounded or killed) and, at one point, required over 100,000 Russian troops to be deployed in Afghanistan. After all that effort, the Mujahideen won the war and Russia was forced to send its troops home, although it would continue to support the opposition in Afghanistan even after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
+5 votes
answered May 21, 2015 by AmeliaMortim (290 points)
The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan was starting to be openly rejected along with creating an undesired Islamic growth that threatened to Soviet Union’s power. The fear of the new opposing regimes overthrowing this system and spreading Islamic culture led Russia to invade Afghanistan and stop the revolts. They were afraid that this spread would in return spark anti-Soviet feelings, which would undermine the Union’s power and stability. These reforms that the people were rebelling against were actually going to be beneficial to them, but the motives behind these reforms were less innocent. The purpose of these reforms was to reshape Afghanistan, and the way this was being done completely conflicted with the religious and cultural structures already in place.
Welcome to Instant Answer, where you can ask questions and receive answers from other members of the community.