The Soviet-Afghan War through the Eyes of an Orientalist Scholar and KGB Officer

Alexei Antoshin


This review considers the book Afghanistan: The USSR Military and Political Presence. 1979 – 1989 by V. S. Khristoforov (published by the Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 2016). According to the reviewer, the work reflects the perception of an officer of the USSR KGB Mission in Afghanistan, who was also a qualified historian and Orientalist. The research is based on materials from the Central Archive of the FSB, the Archives of the Foreign Policy of the Russian Federation, and the Russian State Archive of Contemporary History. The author also refers to a number of documents from Afghan archives. V. S. Khristoforov is critical of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan, emphasising that it undermined the USSR’s authority in the international arena. He proves that during the presence of Soviet counselors in Afghanistan, it was their responsibility to take decisions: the Afghan leaders practically recused themselves from ruling the country. Additionally, the author demonstrates that the Soviet pullout from Afghanistan did not result in the normalisation of the country’s situation. The reviewer maintains that the book makes a considerable contribution to the historiography of the issue in question.


war in Afghanistan; USSR; international policy; KGB; V. S. Khristoforov


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ISSN 2311-911X (Print)
ISSN 2313-6871 (Online)


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