The Roundabout Outcomes of the Soviet-Afghan War

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This paper demonstrates that when a superpower within a bipolar system fights against a small rival either that is located beyond its sphere of influence or that has geostrategic importance to the other acting superpower, other forces matter more than the distribution of capabilities between the belligerents. Within the study I review two primary explanations for the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan. Despite the strong resistance of local forces to the Soviet presence in Afghanistan, mainly by the Afghan Mujahedeen, Moscow failed to predict the political outcomes of the war. It was in fact a series of negative feedbacks that caused Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan after a decade-long intervention that did not achieve any political goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-20
Number of pages20
JournalAsian Perspective
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 Institute for Far Eastern Studies, Kyungnam University


  • Bipolarity
  • Cold war
  • Soviet-afghan war
  • Superpower rivalry

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Sociology and Political Science


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