In the 1980s the Soviet Union found itself caught in a box reminiscent of the U.S. in the early 70s with Vietnam, except this time it was over the mountains of Afghanistan. The Soviets came to Afghanistan for a variety of reasons, the clearest of which is geography. Afghanistan is a central part of the silk road and is conveniently placed in the dead center of the Asia, allowing the Soviets unlimited access to every corner of the continent. One key lesson the U.S.S.R. forgot however, Afghanistan is where empires go to die, something the Persians and British found out longer before. The Soviets quickly discovered that their campaign in the decentralized territory had no coherent or well-thought-out plan and this lead to some of the same lessons the U.S. faced in Vietnam where the concept of a front-line was eradicated. Soviet troops would move into provinces inly to quickly find themselves encircled by an elusive enemy and for every Mujahideen fighter they killed, more would take his place.
From the onset Soviet leadership wouldn’t acknowledge the situation on the ground and refused to alter their strategy and instead pursued a brutal campaign of wack-a-mole where civilians and enemy fighters were killed indiscriminately by use of airborne troops in attack helicopters. Soviet supply lines were frequently attacked and the lack of local support and success led to a dive in morale where being sent to Afghanistan quickly became known as a death sentence in the U.S.S.R.. Unlike the heroes of the Great Patriotic War that was World War Two where the sacrifices of Soviet troops were eternally glorified, Soviet troops faced a completely desperate situation with no support from home, their commanders, or the locals they were trying to help, similar to the U.S. troops in Vietnam. As a result a similar culture of glum negligence and rebellion against the system emerged .
The Afghan war did produce arguably one of the greatest eras in Soviet music and culture, while the U.S. got Jimi Hendrix out of Vietnam, the war gave rise to groups such as DDT and songs such as Умирали Пацаны (The boys died) and Афганистан (Afghanistan) as well as songs written on the front by troops to express their desolate situation, in addition to popular films such at 9th Company. In many ways this culture came home with the soldiers as they returned from the front and it carried forward to how the Soviet people viewed their own situation regarding the Soviet government and crackdowns on free speech through Perestroika.
As a result its not a far stretch to assume that the same way the hippie movement, depicted by the classic rock period of the 70s and 80s, led to reforms in the U.S. political system, the culture born out of the war in Afghanistan led to a massive social movement that built up momentum, eventually seeing the end of the Soviet Union as a whole. My own family served in Afghanistan, both with the Soviets in the 80s and later with the U.S. in the 2000s, and on both ends there is a solemn respect for the region and the people there and a grudging acceptance that it is simply an untamable corner of the world, truly the graveyard of empires.