Politburo meeting. Andropov chairs discussion about the situation in Afghanistan and a possible Soviet withdrawal. [R 10 April 1983, Politburo, para 1]
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MEETING OF CPSU POLITBURO
18 January 1983
Comrade Yu.V. ANDROPOV
Comrades in attendance:
G.A.Aliev, M.S. Gorbachev, A.A.Gromyko,
A.L. Pelshe, A.A. Tikhonov, K.U. Chernenko,
P.N. Demichev, V.I. Dolgikh, V.V. Kuznetsov,
M.S. Solomentsev, I.V. Kapitonov, N.I. Ryzhkov
1. Summary of talks with Samora Machel, Chairman of the Frelimo Party, President of the People’s Republic of Mozambique
6. The situation in Afghanistan and additional measures for its improvement
GROMYKO. In accordance with the resolution of the Politburo, a group of high-ranking Party, Soviet, military and production management officials travelled to Afghanistan. This group put in some good work there. …
On the whole, the situation in Afghanistan is, as you know, difficult. Lately, certain elements of consolidation have been examined, but the process of consolidation is moving slowly. The number of gangs [rebel groups] is not decreasing. The enemy is not laying down its weapons. The negotiations with Pakistan in Geneva are moving slowly and with difficulty. This is why we must do everything to find a mutually acceptable political settlement. In advance, it can already be said that this process will be a lengthy one. There are questions which must be discussed separately. One should only keep in mind that for now we cannot agree with Pakistan on a specific schedule for the withdrawal of our troops from the country. We must exercise caution here. Yes, the situation is stabilizing. It is good that the Afghan army has grown to 140,000. But the main trouble is that the central authorities have not yet reached the countryside: [they] rarely interact with the masses, about one third of the districts is not under the control of the central authority, and one can feel the fragility of the state government.
… evidently we need to take the steps outlined in the recommendations given to you for examination. It will be necessary to hold a meeting with Karmal and a group of leading officials of the People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan sometime in April. It seems that it would also be expedient for Yu. V. Andropov to meet personally with Babrak Karmal. …
ANDROPOV. You remember how arduously and cautiously we decided the question of deploying troops in Afghanistan. L.I. Brezhnev insisted on a roll call vote by the members of the Politburo. The question was examined at the Plenum of the Central Committee.
In deciding the Afghan problem we must proceed from existing realities. What do you want? This is a feudal country where tribes have always been in charge of their territories, and the central authority was far from always able to reach each kishlak [Afghan settlement]. The problem is not in Pakistan’s position. We are fighting against American imperialism which well understands that in this part of international politics it has lost its positions. That is why we cannot back off.
Miracles don’t happen. Sometimes we are angry at the Afghans because they act illogically and work slowly. But let us remember our fight with the basmachi [resistance to Soviet regime, tr]. Why, back then, almost the entire Red Army was concentrated in Central Asia, yet the fight with the basmachi continued up until the mid-1930’s. And so in our relations with Afghanistan there must be both demands and understanding.
As concerns the recommendations of the Commission, they are a little demanding, perhaps, with exact instructions as to what the Afghan side and what we should do.
GROMYKO. Of course we will work to complete the recommendations.
ANDROPOV. Yes, it should be a political document. It must be much more flexible.
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