Operation “Withdrawal”

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The private screening of the documentary “Operation “Withdrawal” by Oleg Shtrom took place at the “Cinema on the Red Square” on February 22. The film is dedicated to the withdrawal of the Soviet troops from Afghanistan. The private premiere was held on the eve of centenary of signing the Treaty of Friendship between RSFSR and Afghanistan.

The decision on the withdrawal of the limited contingent of the Soviet troops as well as the USSR’s participation in the Afghan war are still controversial. Oleg Shtrom’s film is an attempt to answer questions on the role of Soviet participation in the events from the mouths of the witnesses.

The film project manager, the chairman of the Defence Committee of the State Duma, the head of the Russian Heroes Association, Hero of Russia, colonel-general Vladimir Shamanov told Rossotrudnichestvo about fateful participation of the Soviet Union in the Afghan history.

How do you rate the events from that time after all these years?

– Above all, it is important how the people who live there rate the events. In this film we will hear very good, kind words on what has been done. It is often said about us that we only made war there. However, we have made a great deal: social and humanitarian projects. Many Afghans studied in the Soviet Union, our teachers taught in Afghanistan. Infrastructure, power stations, house-building and industrial plants were developed with our help, and they all work to date. Afghans appreciate that. So our presence which lasted nine and a half years was necessary. And military and civil personnel fulfilled their tasks properly.

Nowadays, alas, it became trendy to forget history and facts. Let’s remind why the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

– We had reliable data about a special contingent of Americans who had to invade Afghanistan and take control of the country. On repeated requests of the Afghan government the final decision to send our troops was taken. However, not the way the general staff planned – by two our Southern districts, Turkestan and Central Asian, but by limited pool of troops. Nowadays military theorists argue if we did the right thing from the military standpoint. I think we did the right thing, because a large-scale troop presence in the neighbouring state could not be allowed. We did a wise thing.

Another thing, what the subsequent events showed. We had a number of our own internal difficulties: we could not provide our troops with all they needed, could not satisfy all necessities of Afghan economy and social sphere. Our opponents used that and promoted the withdrawal of the Soviet troops. History does not like the subjunctive, so today we need to talk only about what military and civil personnel did – properly fulfilled the task set by the country.

What is the mission of this film?

– We know and want everybody to know that our troops were staying in Afghanistan for nine and half years on repeated requests of the government of this state. It was not a spontaneous decision or, as now some well-wishers try to present, a gamble of the ageing authority of the Soviet Union on providing international assistance to Afghanistan. It was a well-developed act – that is the way the today’s inhabitants of the country, the witnesses of the events rate the Soviet participation in the Afghan conflict. Our film is about it.

The veterans of the Afghan war, including the chairman of the airborne troops’ veterans, major general Vladimir Danilchenko, Hero of the Soviet Union Alexandr Soluyanov, Hero of the Russian Federation Ilyas Daudi were invited to the premier.

Interviewed by Yulia SHANINA

Photo: press service of the State Duma

Documentary “Operation “Withdrawal” was created by the “FilmOKay” film company with the support of the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation and the Russian Heroes Association, in conjunction with Rossotrudnichestvo headed by Evgeniy Primakov, who provided assistance in making the film.