Main content

Afghanistan 1979: The War That Changed the World

Afghanistan 1979: The War That Changed the World

The Soviet troops' intervention in Afghanistan was a pivotal event in the history of the 20th century. It launched Bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

Soviet troops entered Afghanistan in 1979. This was the war that changed the world. Western countries refer to it as 'The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan'. For the Russians it was an operation with a 'limited contingent' of armed forces. Despite its 'limits', the war lasted ten years and played a key role in the collapse of the Soviet Union. It would be the final conflict of the Cold War, and the first in a long war that is far from over.

Reflecting on this particular chapter in contemporary history, we deliberately focus on events from the side of the 'invading' Soviets. Thanks to the release of hitherto secret archives that are tallied with testimonies of protagonists from all sides (Mikhail Gorbachev speaks for the first time on the Afghanistan invasion for example), the film offers an unprecedented reading of history and an understanding of how we have come to such a confrontational standoff between the Muslim and the Western worlds.

"An excellent documentary very much suited to university-level classroom use. That it has a focus on the Soviet-Afghan side [makes it] particularly valuable for students more likely to have encountered U.S. perspectives." Journal of Slavic Military Studies

"Captivating; documents a conflict that resonates in all of today's hot wars."

"How was the military intervention that upset the balance in the Middle East, Central Asia and beyond launched and conducted? Why did the KGB involve the USSR in this hazardous operation while the Politburo and Brezhnev opposed it? Who had an interest in shattering the East-West reconciliation? Did the Soviets fall into an American trap? How did this war became a crucible for Islamic terrorism? This film answers these questions and many others using unpublished archive of declassified secret documents and testimony from former officers of the KGB, CIA, Red Army, Afghan resistance and even Gorbachev, who here discusses the subject for the first time." Sens Critique

"Highly recommended! Captivating and timely… A must see for anyone interested in the blunders and miscalculations of both Soviet and American leaders that produced the terror-infested world in which we now live." Educational Media Reviews Online


Main credits

Mirzoeva, Gulya (film director)
Mirzoeva, Gulya (screenwriter)
Donn, Vladimir (film producer)
Gorbachev, Mikhail Sergeevich (interviewee)

Other credits

Editing, Giséle Rapp-Meichler; photography and sound, Olivier Chambon; original music, Alain Jomy.

Docuseek2 subjects

Distributor subjects

History (World)
Middle East


; "Afghanistan 1979: The War That Changed the World"; Icarus Films; USSR; Afghanistan; Russia; war; cold war; Mikhail Gorbachev; Osama bin Laden; Taliban; ,doc; history

Related Films

How Putin Came to Power

A detailed investigation, with archives and exclusive interviews with…

A Darkness Visible: Afghanistan

Based on 14 trips to Afghanistan between 1994 and 2010, A Darkness Visible:…