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The Soviet Union invested in the Afghan economy long before the contingent was deployed. Huge sums were channeled to the all-round development of the Central Asian state. Since the late 1950s, with Soviet assistance, hundreds of large industrial and infrastructural facilities and educational institutions have appeared on Afghan soil.
Construction continued even at the height of the war, although such assistance was increasingly difficult for Moscow. The Soviet Union created modern living standards in Afghanistan at that time, and modern Russia wrote off the debts of Kabul by an unprecedented amount of billions of dollars.
Afghanistan's first lender and builder
Territorially, Afghanistan stretches along the paths of ancient migrations of peoples and the crossroads of conquest campaigns. This feature predetermined the cultural and ethnic differences of the people inhabiting the country. The first state with a centralized government on Afghan territory was the Durrani state in 1747. Until the 1920s, large imperialist states, primarily Great Britain, lay claims to Afghanistan. The Russian Empire also did not stand aside.
But Afghanistan managed to defend its independence. In international relations, the monarchy pursued a policy of neutrality.
Cooperation between Afghanistan and the USSR has been actively developing since the mid-50s. The councils provided the partner with machinery and equipment, and Soviet specialists helped with the economy, education and health care. In 1961, the Bagram airport appeared with a landing strip of 3 kilometers, and a few years later an international airport was built in Kabul. Most of the paved roads and bridges are laid in Afghanistan by Moscow.
Soviet builders tied the main economic regions with high-quality road surfaces. The most ambitious object - the Salang road with a fortified tunnel - was built by Moscow metro builders at an altitude of over 3,000 kilometers. At the height of the war, the Mujahideen did not succeed in blocking the tunnel, although they made a lot of serious attempts for this.
Moscow provided especially valuable assistance in the energy sector. Powerful hydroelectric power plants have been built in Naglu, Puli-Khumri. But electricity was still not enough, and then the Soviet Union began to export it from its borders. For this, new power lines were designed and built.
By 1978, with the participation of the USSR, 70 industrial and transport facilities were put into operation in Afghanistan, more than 50 thousand specialists of different profiles were trained. At least 40% of foreign trade turnover was provided by the Soviet Union, and its share in the total volume of external loans was 54% (USA - 15%).
Gas accusations and donations
The military coup on April 27, 1978 brought the People's Democratic Party to power with Nur Muhammad Taraki at its head. This event became a turning point in relations between the two states. First, Moscow was the first in the world to recognize the legitimacy of the new Afghan government, of which on April 30, the Soviet ambassador notified the new leader, Taraki. And on May 3, an official congratulation arrived in Afghanistan signed by Brezhnev and Kosygin, who expressed their hope for fruitful cooperation in the future. Subsequent Soviet-Afghan trade relations were based on official Agreements: on Trade and Payments from 1974, on Trade from 1976 and 1981.
Each new agreement provided for an increase in investment and expansion of trade ties. In particular, the Soviet Union exported massively to Afghanistan cars and auto parts, ferrous metals, refrigeration equipment, clothing, footwear, medicines, etc.The Soviet allies approached the development of the transport and auto industries in Afghanistan with particular care.
Back in the 1960s, the Dzhangalak repair plant was built in Kabul, which repaired 1,300 cars annually. In parallel, the company produced machine tools, pumps, road construction equipment. Already during the war, in 1985, Russian specialists built three KamAZ car factories in the Democratic Republic. And two years later, a Kabul bicycle factory.
Soviet geologists have developed a map of mineral resources on Afghan territory, marking over one and a half thousand deposits. Today one can hear reproaches against Moscow about the forced sale of gas to the USSR at a low cost. Indeed, Kabul sold gas to its Soviet partners at a bargain price.
But then it must be added that the government of the impoverished country finally received a guaranteed profit, which reliably fed the socio-economic spheres. In addition, Afghanistan supplied the USSR with carbamide, cotton fiber, carpets, citrus fruits, nuts, and woolen fabrics. In 1980, a contract was signed between the governments to supply consumer goods to Kabul free of charge. This aid cost the Union 10 million rubles annually.
Education of Afghans
After the reforms, the proper level of the economic and social sphere had to be supported by local specialists. To train professionals, a Polytechnic University was built in Kabul in 1963, which recruited 1,200 students in the first year of study.
Moscow spent 6 million rubles to organize the educational process in Russian. Kabul Polytechnic University today remains the leading technical university in Afghanistan. Geological, construction and electromechanical faculties function here, graduating about 4,000 students a year. This educational institution is the only one in the country where the main foreign language is Russian.
In 1973, in the new technical school Mazar-i-Sharif, they began to train future oil workers and geologists. The Kabul technical school graduated auto mechanics, and from 1982 to 1986, a dozen more vocational schools opened their doors. The USSR also took care of orphans, who were now housed in boarding schools.
Over 100 Afghan women walked through the Mother and Child Center, opened in 1971, every day. The USSR built extensive residential areas, hospitals, kindergartens, and meteorological stations throughout Afghanistan. Ordinary Afghans who lived in those times, and today know who made their life comfortable and civilized.
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