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“A generation has passed since the the 40th Army crossed the Friendship Bridge on the Amu Darya river to Termez, on its February 15, 1989 withdrawal from Afghanistan. Over the course of nine years, one month, three weeks and a day, 620,000 Soviet troops served there. Casualties were relatively low, with the 15,051 killed in action approximately the same number as those killed in Soviet traffic accidents in that time. The vast majority returned to everyday life in the Soviet Union during a period of tumultuous reform.
It is the challenges that the afgantsy faced upon reintegration and public reception, and their imprint on popular culture that best resemble a “Soviet Vietnam”. Western scholarship on the topic has, to date, been fixated on comparative foreign policy and geopolitics. This has limited our understanding of the broader impact that the afgantsy had on the Soviet Union.
In this presentation, I will outline the themes of my study and offer some impressions from my archive research and interviews to date.”