The Soviet spectre haunting Afghanistan

As US and British forces pull out of Afghanistan, further victims of the ‘grave of empires’, Russia is experiencing a mix of satisfaction, exasperation and trepidation. It has its own bitter memories of the country, after all. In 1979, as a friendly regime was falling back in the face of a mounting Islamic fundamentalist insurgency, Soviet forces rolled into Afghanistan. The idea was that by installing a new leader and mounting a brief show of force, the rebels would be intimidated back into line. Six months, the old men in the Kremlin told themselves, that is all it would take. And so began a vicious ten-year war that saw the deaths