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Quito Cuanavale: Angolan

Kuito Cuanavale: Angolan "Stalingrad"

Tags: Angola, USSR, War, Politics, History, Civil War, United States, Cuba

About civil war in Angola in our country is almost unknown, but it is decidedly unfair. It is unfair to Soviet instructors and allies, to internationalist soldiers from Cuba. They do not remember, apparently, because the Soviet Union and its allies clearly won that war.

Also, it is bitter that the exploits of Soviet military advisers during this war were not covered in the Soviet Union at that time. Apparently, the notorious "glasnost" spread only to mossy dissidents, but not to internationalist heroes who professionally and honestly fulfilled their duty.

This article will deal with the most intense and large-scale battle of that war - the battle for the city of Quito Cuanavale.

In the 80-ies of the XX century, Angola became the object of a multi-level confrontation. At the national level, the war was fought between the national liberation movement of the MPLA that came to power and armed oppositionists from UNITA and FNLA. At the regional level, between Angola and the apartheid regime of South Africa, and, finally, globally, two superpowers, the USSR and the United States, competed.

Then, in the era of the Cold War, the question was posed: which of them can have a decisive influence on Angola, he will get a "key" to the whole of South Africa. Then the economic assistance of the Soviet Union allowed independent Angola to get on its feet. And the weapons supplied and the thousands of Soviet military advisers who came to the country helped repel foreign aggression and create national armed forces.

Only during the period of official military cooperation of the USSR with Angola from 1975 to 1991 year in this African country about to help in building the national army visited about 11 thousand Soviet soldiers. Of these, 107 generals and admirals, 7.211 officers, more than 3,5 thousand warrant officers, midshipmen, privates, as well as workers and employees of the SA and the Navy, not including family members of Soviet servicemen.

In addition, during this period, thousands of Soviet naval sailors, including marines, who were on board warships entering the ports of Angola, carried combat service off the coast of Angola. And there were still pilots, doctors, fishermen, specialists in agriculture. In total, according to the estimates of the Union of Angolan Veterans, at least 50 thousand Soviet citizens passed through this country.

A significant contribution to the construction of the armed forces of Angola was made also by the allies of the USSR - the Cubans. The contingent of the armed forces of the Republic of Cuba appeared in Angola in 1975. By the end of 1975, Cuba sent 25000 soldiers to Angola. The internationalists stayed there until the signing of the "New York agreements" - the withdrawal of Cuban troops and the occupation forces of South Africa. In total, through the war in Angola, 300 thousand Cuban military personnel passed, not counting civilian experts.

All the participating countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization provided all possible assistance with technology, weapons, ammunition and civilian advisers. So only the GDR supplied 1,5 million cartridges for small arms and 2000 min MPLA (Angola armed forces). Romanian pilots, instructors and support personnel during the Sirius mission assisted the Angolan authorities in organizing the National School of Military Aviation ENAM.

At the same time, the pilots were not just advisers: in fact, they were tasked with creating a full-fledged educational institution from scratch, while the Angolan command, due to lack of experience in the first year of the mission, was assigned the role of observer. This and other assistance helped to create an army of Angola from scratch, and to reflect the external aggression of the puppets of imperialism.

The war in Angola began 25 September 1975. On that day, troops from Zaire entered the territory of Angola from the north to support the pro-Western armed gang of the FNLA. 14 October army of racist South Africa (where in those years reigned apartheid regime) invaded the territory of Angola from the south, supporting UNITA - in order to protect its occupation regime in Namibia.

However, by the end of March 1976, the armed forces of Angola, with the direct support of the 15-thousandth contingent of Cuban volunteers and the help of Soviet military specialists, succeeded in forcing the forces of South Africa and Zaire out of the territory of Angola. The war continued UNITA movement in the chapter with Jonas Savimbi, who was able to quickly transform into a partisan army. It was UNITA that became the main opponent of the legitimate authority of Angola, constantly committing banditry for military and cruel punitive actions against the civilian population.

The clashes with the regular army of South Africa, which resolved direct military aggression to support UNITA, resumed with renewed force in the south of Angola in 1981. In August 1981, South African troops (6 thousand fighters, 80 aircraft and helicopters) again invaded Angola in the province of Cunene with the goal of easing the pressure of the FAPLA on UNITA and destroying SWAPO's partisan bases. The offensive was also attended by mercenary rabble from around the world, thugs-scumbags, for the money of the bloody apartheid regime, who rushed to kill in the young African Republic.

In response, the USSR and Cuba strengthened their presence in the region. With the assistance of a group of Soviet military advisers (to 1985, its strength reached 2 thousand people), it was possible to form 45 army brigades with manning up to 80%, to raise the level of combat training for commanders and fighters. The USSR continued large-scale deliveries of weapons and military equipment. In addition to the Cuban units, in the battles for the side of the legitimate government of Angola, the Namibian PLAN brigade and the military wing of the African National Congress Umkonto We Sizwe participated.

The fighting in the south and south-east of the country went with varying success. The young republic gave the decisive battle to the aggressors-racists of South Africa-sheep and western puppets from UNITA at 1987-1988. Since then, a small village on the three streets named Quito Cuanavale in all summaries of world news has become known as the city, and the places of those battles - "Angolan Stalingrad."

The decisive offensive (Operation "Greeting October") began in August 1987. The goal is the two main UNITA bases in Maving and Jamba (Savimbi headquarters), and the main routes for delivering military aid from South Africa were also held here. Four mechanized brigades of government troops (21-I, 16-I, 47-I, 59-I, and later - 25-I) moved from Quito Cuanavale to the Mawingi area. In their composition was up to 150 tanks T-54B and T-55. The group's actions were supported from the Quito-Kuangwala by Mi-24 percussion helicopters, MiG-23 fighters. The main obstacle in their way was the Lomba River. The first to go to the river was the 61 mechanized battalion.

In a series of heavy battles for crossing the Lomba in the period from 9 September to 7 October, South Africans and Unitov broke the offensive impulse of the enemy. The turning point came 3 October, when on the left bank of Lomba as a result of competent actions from the ambush 47-I brigade was defeated, and afterwards the 16-I brigade. Two days later, the withdrawal of the forces of FAPLA in Quito-Cuanavale began. 14 October, troops of South Africa and UNITA began the siege of the city with firing from long-range 155 m howitzers G5 and self-propelled howitzers G6. By mid-November, deprived of almost all the tanks and artillery (of the artillery weapons they had the guns of M-46, D-30 and ZIS-3 and ML-BMN-21), the forces of FAPLA in Quito Cuanavale were on the brink of defeat. They were saved by the arrival in the combat zone of the Cuban units (up to 1,5 thousand).

In their bid to win at Quito-Cuanavale, South Africans used even weapons of mass destruction. That's what Junior Fellow Igor Zhdarkin wrote in his diary:

"29 October 1987. In 14.00 on the radio received terrible news. In 13.10, the enemy fired 59-th brigade shells, stuffed with chemical poisons. Many Angolan soldiers were poisoned, some lost consciousness, the brigade commander coughs up blood. Has hooked and our advisers. The wind just blew in their direction, many complain of severe headaches and nausea. This news has alarmed us, because we do not even have the most overpowering gas masks, not to mention the OZK. "

And here is the next entry:

"1 November 1987. The night passed smoothly. In 12 hours there was an air raid on the nearby 59 brigade, dropped to its position more than a dozen 500-kilogram bombs. We do not know about the losses yet.

Our artillerymen received reconnaissance data and decided to suppress the battery of 155-mm howitzers of the enemy. The Angolans gave a volley from the BM-21. In response, the South Africans opened fire from all their howitzers. Beat very accurately, with small interruptions. One of the shells exploded right next to our dugout. As it turned out, we were just "born a second time". After the shelling in a radius of 30 m from the dugout, all shrubs and small trees are completely cut off by debris. I hear badly on the right ear - a concussion. The advisor to the brigade commander, Anatoly Artemenko, also shook in an explosion: he has a lot of "noise" in his head. "

Seven massive assaults by the Allied positions of FAPLA and Cubans on the eastern bank of the Kuito River from 13 January to 23 March 1988 broke up on a carefully organized defense (it was led by Cuban brigadier General Ochoa). 25 February was the turning point of the battle. On this day, the Cuban and Angolan parts themselves counterattacked, forcing the enemy to retreat. The moral spirit of the besieged was rapidly growing stronger. In addition, it became evident that the old South African Mirage F1 fighters and air defense assets were losing to the Cuban and Angolan MiG-23MM fighters and the mobile air defense systems "Osa-AK", "Strela-10" and stationary air defense "Pechora" (C-125) defending Quito-Cuanavale.

After the last unsuccessful attack of 23 March, an order was issued from Pretoria to leave, leaving 1,5 thousand contingent (20 combat group) to cover the withdrawal. Howitzer G5 continued shelling the city. At the end of June, this artillery group was sent to Namibia as a whole.

Both sides announced a decisive success in the battle for Quito Cuanavale. However, even before it was completed, on the initiative of Fidel Castro, in the southern direction, a second front was created in Lubango under the command of General Leopoldo Sintra Frías, where, in addition to Cubans (40 thousand) and FAPLA units (30 thousand), SWAPO units also entered. The grouping was reinforced by 600 tanks and up to 60 by combat aircraft. Three months of fighting followed, gradually shifting to the border with South-West Africa. In June, South African troops completely left the territory of Angola.

In general, the war ended in the victory of Angola over all the interventionists. But this victory was given at a heavy price: losses among civilians alone amounted to more than 300 thousand people. There is no accurate data on the military losses of Angola until now, because the civil war continued in the country right up to the beginning of the zero ones. The losses of the USSR were 54 killed, 10 wounded and 1 captive (according to other sources, three people were captured). The Cuban side lost about 1000 deaths.

The Soviet military mission was in Angola until the year 1991, and then was folded for political reasons. In the same year, the Cuban army left the country. Veterans of the war in Angola with great difficulty sought, after the collapse of the USSR, the recognition of their exploits. And this is very unfair, because they won that war and rightfully earned respect and honor, which for the new capitalist power was, of course, not an argument. In Afghanistan, Soviet troops and military advisers dealt with "Mujahideen," armed mainly with light firearms, mortars and grenade launchers. In Angola, Soviet soldiers were confronted not only with unitary guerrilla detachments, but with the regular army of South Africa, with firing long-range artillery, with Miragei attacks using "smart" bombs, often stuffed with prohibited UN conventions "balls."

And the Cubans, and Soviet citizens, and citizens of Angola, who have stood up in an unequal battle against such a serious and dangerous adversary, are worthy of being remembered. We remember both the living and the dead.

Glory to the internationalist soldiers, who honorably fulfilled their international duty in the Republic of Angola and the eternal memory of all those who died there.

Pavel Usoltsev
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