top of page

1988 - Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan

1988 Soviet Withdrawal Afghanistan_min.JPG

Title: 1988 - Soviet Withdrawal from Afghanistan

About:  After years of grueling conflict the Soviet army pulled out from Afghanistan, leaving the war-torn country in a precarious position as Mujhadeen guerrillas began to challenge the government for control.

In the words of Premier Gorbachev, Afghanistan had become “a bleeding wound”, an embarrassment for the once mighty USSR that symbolized it's decline. The Soviets had tried hard to force a military solution, but like many invading armies before them, they had ultimately failed to break the insurgency’s back.

In April 1988, the Soviet 40th Army consisted of around 100,000 men. Most of the Soviet military was deployed in the larger cities, along major roads and airfields with the majority of forces stationed in the Eastern provinces of Afghanistan. In the first phase of the retreat, 50,000 soldiers were withdrawn from 10 major garrisons. 

In order to protect the retreating troops, the Soviets deployed additional tank and artillery units as well as round-the-clock close-air-support along the routes. In addition, the Soviets—to the dismay of the Najibullah regime which was being left behind to run the country—also negotiated local ceasefires and paid off insurgents not to attack them. This proved very effective and there were only limited attempts from different Mujahedeen groups to interfere with the Soviet retreat.

The Soviets eventually withdrew all of the remaining 50,000 soldiers during late January and early February 1989. 


While the withdrawal was professionally conducted with minimum loss of life and material on the Soviet side, the announcement of an official timetable with the signing of the Geneva Accords in 1988 forced the Soviets to hand over authority in certain provinces prematurely, creating vacuums that could not be filled by the overstretched Afghan military. This substantially contributed to the insurgents controlling ever larger chunks of terrain, particularly in Eastern Afghanistan, and guaranteed that the conflict-riven country would not experience any meaningful or lasting peace.

Decade: 1980s

Year: 1988

Region: Asia

Country: Afghanistan + USSR

Conflict: Cold War

Politics: Imperialism

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 6

Artist: Yulia Kozlova


Group: Genesis

Number: 88/100

Price: 0.6 ETH


bottom of page