A lecture by Sir Rodric Braithwaite GCMG, formerly British Ambassador in Moscow.
What actually happened during the Russian war in Afghanistan is rather different from what most of us remember. There is no evidence that the Russians wanted to threaten our Gulf oil interests, secure a warm water port or incorporate Afghanistan into the Soviet Union. They went in with the intention of imposing a stable government, building up the Afghan army and police and leaving after six months. They remained for just over nine years.
Initially unprepared for a war they did not expect, the Russians learned to fight effectively and never lost a post or a battle. American Stinger missiles affected their tactics but made little difference to their use of air power and had no impact on the decision to withdraw. In 1988-9 Russian forces withdrew in good order, leaving behind their choice of President and government, and an effective Afghan army which won several victories over the Mujahedin before the Russians cut off essential supplies in 1992. In his lecture, Sir Rodric Braithwaite will discuss the ‘lessons of history’ and draw some instructive parallels with the situation in Afghanistan today.
Sir Rodric Briathwaite GCMG served as British Ambassador in Moscow from 1988 to 1992. He was there when the Soviet troops came out of Afghanistan and when the Soviet Union collapsed nearly three years later. Subsequently, he was Foreign Policy Adviser to John Major. His books include Across the Moscow River and the highly praised and bestselling Moscow 1941. His latest book, Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89, draws on all the insights he has gathered in sixty years of involvement with Russia.
An optional £10 sandwich lunch shall be available from 1215.
Following his lecture, Sir Rodric Braithwaite will be on hand to sign copies of his book, Afgantsy: The Russians in Afghanistan 1979-89 (Profile, March 2011), which will be on sale at a special price of £20.
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