While researching a project on large Russian cities, photographer Nadav Kander discovered some of the testing sites on Google Earth. Kander shared a number of the photos with us here, but you can see the rest on display at the Flowers Gallery in London. Kurchatov in Eastern Kazakhstan used to be the center of operations for the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site. The Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, in support of a Marxist-Leninist government, and the subsequent nine year conflict with the indigenous Afghan Mujahedeen was one of the bloodiest conflicts of the Cold War. Russian leader Joseph Stalin (left) and Winston Churchill (right) in 1945 - he urged the US to launch a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union to win the Cold WarThe note, written by an FBI agent, reports that Churchill urged Right-wing Republican Senator Styles Bridges to persuade President Harry Truman to launch a nuclear attack which would a€?wipe outa€™ the Kremlin and make the Soviet Union a a€?very easy problema€™ to deal with.The Russians would have been defenceless against a nuclear attack at that time a€“ they did not successfully test their own atomic bomb until 1949.
Britain and the Soviet Union had been allies in the Second World War until 1945, the year Churchill lost office as Prime Minister.
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Key details of the circumstances surrounding the invasion and its ultimate conclusion only months before the fall of the Berlin Wall in November 1989 have long remained unclear, a confidential narrative of clandestine correspondence, covert operations and failed intelligence.

But he was one of the first international statesmen to recognise the post-war threat posed by the USSR, and in 1946 made a famous speech in Fulton, Missouri, about an a€?iron curtaina€™ having descended across Europe as Joseph Stalin consolidated his grip on the eastern half of the continent.The FBI document shows Churchilla€™s belligerence towards Britaina€™s former wartime ally ran so deep that he was prepared to tolerate the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Soviet civilians in a nuclear strike. At its heyday, the population was over 20,000, composed of scientists, engineers, physicists, military personnel and those who worked at the nuclear facilities.
In the light of recently declassified intelligence archives, these details have come to light. The Secret War in Afghanistan undertakes a full analysis of these documents in order to assess Anglo-American secret intelligence and diplomacy on the invasion of Afghanistan and unveil the Cold War aims behind the rhetoric. Located near Kurchatov, the Soviet Union conducted 456 nuclear tests in the area from 1949 to 1989, with little regard for radiation exposure to citizens. Rooted at every turn in close examination of the primary evidence, it outlines the secret operations of the CIA, MI6 and the KGB, and the full extent of the aid and intelligence from the West which armed and trained the Afghan fighters. After he returned to power in 1951, a nuclear attack against the USSR was never mentioned again. Charting the reactions of the international community which culminated in Gorbachev’s unexpected withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

In so doing, this study brings a new scholarly perspective to some of the most controversial events of Cold War history. Dimitrakis also outlines the full extent of China’s involvement in arming the Mujahedeen, effectively fighting the Soviet Union by proxy. This will be essential reading for scholars and students of the Cold War, American History and the Modern Middle East. Over the course of 50 years, it has shrunk to a tenth of its size, thanks to a number of Soviet irrigation projects that diverted water from the area. The project was a failure, however, as much of the water was swallowed by the desert, leaving behind a dusty plane full of salt and toxic chemicals.

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