Cold War Files: All Units: Events: Last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan.

February 15, 1989
Last Soviet troops leave Afghanistan.

The last Soviet troops were withdrawn from Afgahnistan. Gorbachev demanded that the retreat be orderly and dignified--he did not want television images reminiscent of the chaotic 1975 US pullout from Vietnam. "We must not appear before the world in our underwear or even without any," he told the Politburo inner circle. "A defeatist position is not possible." The withdrawal was intended as a sign of conciliation toward the West and reassurance to the East Europeans, but it encouraged the national minorities to challenge Soviet power.

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