Afghan war damaged USSR foreign policy – KGB Vympel veteran
RT: What is your assessment of the Soviet military campaign in Afghanistan, back then, 30 years ago and now?
Lev Korolkov: My personal view hasn’t changed much. I believe at the moment the decision was fairly thought-through and rational. Until the end we got along well with the Afghans. There wasn’t any tragedy. The task of the military forces is to fight. Despite all the negative issues, by the time we were withdrawing, our army was the best prepared to fight a war in any conditions. And all our tasks and battle operations were performed successfully. We didn’t solve the global problem, and we couldn’t have – it was impossible. But from a military point of view, it was all performed adequately.
And we also cooperated well. We cooperated with the Main Intelligence Directorate,GRU. They held strong positions, and perfected all their military units there. But we all had our own tasks. Our operations had more to do with politics, and the Main Intelligence Directorate dealt with military operations. It was GRU Spetsnaz that actually fought the war.
What was a disaster was when we completely stopped government support. We can say we betrayed those we were fostering, so to say, and our close allies.
The Soviet Union was pulled into Afghanistan. It damaged the USSR’s foreign policy to some extent in the view of many Third World countries – mostly in the view of Islamic countries. But the damage was very, very serious. And the second thing is that the further the USSR was pulled in, the more money it spent, which should have been spent on solving problems inside the country.
RT: What are the most important consequences today of the Soviet military campaign then, 30 years ago?
LV: The consequences were different for the Soviet Union and for the rest of the world, but generally speaking they were serious and even fatal. Thirty years on, and now it’s the West involved in the same conflict with all its immense military and economic potential. The US and its allies have been fighting for a long time in Afghanistan, and not a single problem has been solved.