Author: Andy Young

Russian invasion of Afghanistan

Anyone who lived through the Cold War will doubtless recall the shocking events surrounding the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979 and the political ramifications that followed for many years. With the conflict over 30 years old, do we really understand how the invasion came about or has it been confined to history and largely forgotten? For those that are unsure, here is a brief history of the Russian war in Afghanistan. A country in crisis While other countries in the region, notably Iran and Iraq, were stealing the headlines in the late 1970’s, Afghanistan was largely off everyone’s radar. In 1979 however, it was in the grip of civil war and it was truly a country in deep crisis. The government was a newly established Soviet backed Marxist-Leninist regime that had come to power following the Saur revolution of 1978. Led by prime minister Hazifullah Amin, it was struggling in its conflict against the Mujahideen rebels. In turn, the rebels strength was enhanced by support from mercenary Arab-Afghan volunteers and there was believed to be unofficial support for them from many countries across the world. The Background The Afghan government that took power following the Saur revolution was based on socialist ideals and had close links with the Soviet Union after signing a friendship treaty in 1978. As the world moved into 1979, global support for the Mujahideen...

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Rasputin facts

Grigori Yefimovich Rasputin was one of the most controversial figures in Russian history. From his arrival at the Russian court through to the incredible night of his death, the mystical ‘monk’ was one of the pivotal figures in the fall of the Russian Royal Family. Here are a few key Rasputin facts. Rasputin was illiterate In his early days, Rasputin had a very sparse education. He left school at the age of eight and was unable to read or write. He was born in the tiny Siberian village of Pokrovskoye in 1869 and after turning his back on a traditional education, he found himself at the Verkhoture Monastery. Rasputin wasn’t a monk Not in the literal sense of the word anyway. Although he attended the Verkhoture Monastery, he left and had returned to his home village by the age of 19. He certainly hadn’t completed his training by this time. Although he was generally known as ‘The Monk’ during his lifetime and certainly as ‘The Mad Monk’ after his death, it is likely that he was a self-acclaimed ‘monk’, but on what basis Rasputin made this assertion is unclear. Rasputin wasn’t a mystic Among the Russian public and, indeed, the Russian Royal Family, Rasputin had become something of a self proclaimed ‘mystic’. These ‘powers’ were first claimed by Rasputin when he left home to travel around Greece and the...

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How much did Alaska cost?

While Alaska is widely known today as the largest state in the USA, it once part of Russia. For around a hundred years from the mid 18th century onwards, Alaska was a Russian colony but, after a handsome price was negotiated in 1867, it became US territory and eventually became the 49th state of the USA. Alaska’s history At around the time that the rest of America was being colonised by English settlers, Alaska was discovered by the Russian navy in 1741. While indigenous people had been present for many centuries, the first time that Alaska was viewed by European eyes came when Vitus Bering set sail aboard the vessel St Peter. The expedition brought back sea otter pelts which were greatly sought after but more importantly, the first contact with Alaska had been made. Over the course of the next few years, Russia and Spain led several expeditions here and for a time, there was some dispute over the claims to Alaska but in time, it officially became part of Russia and known as New Archangel. Apathy rules Russia never fully colonized Alaska: The region was sparse, vast and overall fairly barren and it remained unprofitable for all the years that Russia laid claim to it. Although, Alaska itself was only a few miles from mainland Russia, it was underused and largely uncharted. Negotiations At the time of...

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Russian Empire Timeline

This Russian Empire Timeline gives a brief overview of key events during the history of the Russian Empire, with a particular focus on its expansion and conflicts with other countries and empires. 1721 After defeating Sweden, Russia gains control of Estonia, Livonia and Ingria. Tsar Peter I (later known as Peter the Great) is proclaimed as the first Emperor of all Russia 1772 The First Partition of Poland sees almost a third of Poland divided between Prussia, Austria and Russia. The full partition of Poland was completed by 1795. 1799 The Russian American Company is founded, and begins constructing settlements in North America, particularly in Alaska and California. 1809 The Finnish War concludes, and Sweden cedes Finland to the Russian Empire. 1812 Under the leadership of Napoleon, France invades Russia in June. After reaching Moscow, French forces are pushed back and defeated by the end of the year. 1829 The Russo-Turkish war of 1828-1829 concludes. Defeated Turkey cedes the Eastern Black Sea shore to Russia, plus territory at the mouth of the river Danube. 1831 Polish November uprising is defeated. 1853 – 1856 Russia fights France and the British Empire in the Crimean War. Russia is defeated, and loses control of its Danube territory. Defeat leads to domestic reform, including Alexander II’s 1861 emancipation of the serfs. 1858 Treaty of Aigun signed. Border between China and Russia is fixed...

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Why Did Hitler Attack Russia?

By May 1941, Germany had established effective control over mainland Europe. As you can see from the map that accompanies this article, the only mainland countries not occupied by German or Italian forces were neutral countries, like Spain, Portugal, Sweden Turkey and Switzerland and, to the East, the Soviet Union. To the West, Great Britain stood against Germany. A threat, certainly, but its offensive capabilities were limited and, after Dunkirk, a British invasion of mainland Europe was inconceivable. Further to the West, the pre-Pearl Harbour United States had, of course, not yet entered the war. But an invasion of Great Britain may well have dragged it prematurely into the conflict. This, combined with Britain’s strong defensive position – it was, after all, on an island – would have made the planned Operation Sealion invasion seem like a risky prospect. Instead, to the East, stood the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union signed a nonaggression pact in 1939 with Germany and was nominally its ally. The USSR was known to be fast building up its military strength, after a paranoid Stalin had initially purged his officer corps. Although, for the moment, the USSR seemed militarily weaker than Germany, it was clear that Germany’s strategic advantage could not last forever. Added to this, the Soviet Union was a massive source of the natural resources that Germany so badly needed if it was...

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