Afghanistan

   The KGB and the GRU played important roles in Afghanistan from the mid-1930s to 1989. Both services maintained large rezidenturas (intelligence stations) in Kabul beginning in the 1960s, and both services developed considerable expertise on the country. Afghanistan was also an important base for KGB operations in Iran and Pakistan. In the late 1970s, Soviet intelligence apparently reported accurately about the spread of the anti-Soviet movement. The Kabul rezidentura also had a number of agents within the Afghan communist movement, which provided Moscow with details about the deadly internecine battle between Afghan communists. Any information suggesting the impossibility of winning a war in Afghanistan was rejected by KGB Chair Yuri Andropov and Minister of Defense Dmitry Ustinov, both of whom urged the leadership to intervene in the civil war.
   Even before the first main force Red Army units entered Afghanistan, KGB paramilitary organizations were conducting operations clandestinely inside Afghanistan to prepare the way for intervention. KGB’s Alpha Group began the war by storming the presidential palace on 27 December 1979 and killing Afghan President Hafizullah Amin and his entourage. The group’s commander, Colonel Boyarinov, and 10 Spetznaz (Special Designation) troops died in the assault. Alpha Group was successful in decapitating the Afghan leadership and allowing Moscow to set up a puppet government quickly. During the war, KGB officers were assigned to the Afghan secret police, KHAD, and worked against the insurgents in all provinces of the country. KGB Border Guards also took an active role in the war but were unsuccessful in stopping Afghani insurgents from crossing the Soviet–Afghan border and bringing Islamic literature to Soviet villages. In firefights with insurgents, 10 Border Guards were killed, according to a Russian history of the struggle.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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