20: Soldiers of God: 1975-1988 | Cold War

Nur Mohammad Taraki comes to power in Afghanistan and attempts to modernise the country on Marxist-Leninist lines, provoking a rebellion from more traditional power brokers in the country. The Soviets are initially reluctant to intervene militarily, but respond after Taraki is violently replaced by Hafizullah Amin who is considered to be destabilising influence. The Soviets invade Afghanistan, and soon find themselves unprepared facing a hostile army of mujahideen insurgents, secretly armed by the Americans who see the war as an opportunity to wear down the Soviet Union. To achieve mobility in Afghanistan's rugged terrain the Soviet Union uses helicopters, but are thwarted by Stinger missiles. Atrocities are committed by Soviet and mujahideen forces. Eventually Soviet forces would leave Afghanistan under the terms of the Geneva Accords, but bloodshed would continue with rival mujahideen forces fighting each other. Interviewees include Caspar Weinberger, Artyom Borovik and Zbigniew Brzezinski. The pre-credits scene shows a battle in progress and presents the views of the superpowers - the Soviet Union did not want to lose face by being defeated in a proxy war.

Clip Info
  • Clip length: 46'24''
  • Broadcast year: 1998
Curriculum Connection
  • History | The Cold War

Licence: ERA Licence required


UK only
Staff and students of licensed education establishments only
Cannot be adapted

  • Provider: BBC
  • Channel: BBC Two
  • Programme: Cold War
  • Episode: 20: Soldiers of God: 1975-1988