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Soviet Ambassador A.M. Puzanov, Mohammed Daud and Soviet embassy official Vladimir Kozin.

May 1 demonstration in Kabul, Babrak Karmal is in the center.

The presidential palace—the Arg—in the center of Kabul

The KGB's resident in Kabul, Colonel Vladimir Osadchii.

December 1978, Brezhnev meets with Nur Muhammed Taraki in Moscow.

Head of the Afghan secret service Asadulla Sarvari in Moscow.

Brezhnev welcomes Babrak Karmal in Moscow.

Washington, DC, October 13, 2012 – Contrary to U.S. myths of a strategic Soviet offensive towards warm water ports on the Persian Gulf or Indian Ocean, it was "mission creep" that led the Soviet Union into its ill-fated invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, according to a new, richly documented account of early Soviet engagement in Afghanistan, published in English and in Russian today by the National Security Archive at www.nsarchive.org.

The groundbreaking book by two Russian authors - the historian and journalist Vladimir Snegirev and the veteran of Soviet foreign intelligence Valery Samunin - appears today in English under the title The Dead End: The Road to Afghanistan, together with 21 key documents from the National Security Archive's collection of Soviet and U.S. secret files on the Soviet war in Afghanistan and seven historic photographs from the period immediately before the invasion.

The Archive's posting of the Russian original, Virus A: How We Got Infected by the Invasion of Afghanistan, appears on our Russian Page. It includes more than 150 original Russian-language documents from Soviet-era files gathered by the Archive - most of which are not available in Moscow archives today - and 42 photographs from the period that were obtained by the authors. This book, defined by the authors as a "political investigation," traces the process of the gradual Soviet engagement in the Afghan revolutionary process over the years 1978 and 1979, eventually culminating in the invasion of December 1979. The authors reconstruct the history of Soviet involvement on the basis of archival documents and extensive interviews with key participants ranging from top Afghan Communists to the late Ahmad Shah Masood to former KGB chief Vladimir Kryuchkov and Soviet ambassador A.M. Puzanov.

During the glasnost years of the late 1980s, Vladimir Snegirev wrote the first investigative stories published in the Soviet Union (in Komsomolskaya Pravda and Rossiyskaya Gazeta) about the invasion of Afghanistan, and has been pursuing this hidden history for the past 25 years. Retired KGB colonel Valery Samunin served in Afghanistan for more than seven years as a foreign intelligence officer, and applied his knowledge and contacts to develop Snegirev's investigation into a panoramic history of the decisionmaking that led to the disastrous Soviet intervention in 1979.

The authors of the book and the National Security Archive would like to express their gratitude to the Carnegie Corporation of New York, which provided funding for the translation of the manuscript, and to the expert translator who carried out this work, Anna Vassilieva.


Read the English translation of The Dead End: The Road to Afghanistan


Document 1 – Cable, US Embassy Kabul, to SecState, "Six Weeks after Afghanistan's Revolution: A Summing Up," June 13, 1978.

Document 2 – Memorandum of Conversation, Soviet Ambassador Puzanov with Nur Muhammed Taraki, July 11, 1978.

Document 3 – Memorandum of Conversation, Soviet Ambassaror Puzanov with Hafizullah Amin, July 11, 1978.

Document 4 – CC CPSU Politburo Session on Afghanistan, March 17, 1979.

Document 5 – Memorandum of Conversation, Kosygin, Gromyko, Ustinov, Ponomarev and Taraki, March 20, 1979.

Document 6 – Memorandum, National Security Council, Thomas Thornton to Zbigniew Brzezinski, "What Are the Soviets Doing In Afghanistan?," September 17, 1979.

Document 7 – Interagency Intelligence Memorandum, CIA, "Soviet Options in Afghanistan," September 27, 1979.

Document 8 – Memorandum on Afghanistan, Andropov, Gromyko, Ustinov, Ponomarev, October 29, 1979.

Document 9 – Alexander Lyakhovsky's Account of the Decision of the CC CPSU Decision to Send Troops to Afghanistan—from The Tragedy and Valor of Afghan (Moscow, 1995).

Document 10 – Memorandum, Politburo, "About the Situation in 'A'," December 12, 1979.

Document 11 – Summary, National Security Council, "Summary of Conclusions: SCC Meeting on Soviet Moves in Afghanistan," December 26, 1979.

Document 12 – Memorandum, White House, Zbigniew Brzezinski to the President, "Reflections on Soviet Intervention in Afghanistan," December 26, 1979.

Document 13 – Memorandum of Conversation, "Summary of the President's Telephone Conversation - Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of Great Britain, December 28, 1979, 11:40 to 11:50 a.m.," December 28, 1979.

Document 14 – Cable, State Department, SecState, to all NATO capitals,"Our Assessment of Recent Events in Afghanistan," December 28, 1979.

Document 15 – Intelligence Assessment, CIA, "The Invasion of Afghanistan: Implications for Soviet Foreign Policy," January 1980.

Document 16 – Memorandum, White House, for the Secretary of State,"Presidential Decisions on Pakistan, Afghanistan, and India," January 2 1980.

Document 17 – Summary, National Security Council, "SCC Meeting on Soviet Forces in Afghanistan," January 2, 1980.

Document 18 – CC CPSU Politburo Session on Afghanistan, January 17, 1980.

Document 19 – CC CPSU Politburo Resolution on Afghanistan, February 07, 1980.

Document 20 – CC CPSU Politburo Session on Afghanistan, February 07, 1980.

Document 21 – Documents on Soviet-Afghan Trade and Industrial Cooperation.


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