It’s no wonder the Soviet state was helping some sides in the Angola war. Here are some photos of Russian veterans from their private albums. Rarely seen private photos of Soviet pilots, tank commanders and other officers who fought on Angolan ground.
Many soldiers from Angola were studying how to fight and how to use arms in Russia.
“People always ask me”, remembers one Soviet Angola war veteran, “did you fight in Angola yourself or were you just acting as an advisor?”
“We were sent to Angola to advise, not to fight. However I would lie if I say that we were sending Angolan pilots to the attacks they were not ready to handle yet. We were performing these tasks ourselves, or as sidekicks with them”.
“We tried not to fly more than two bombing raids in a row in order to minimize the risks of us being shot down”
“Young Angolan pilots respected us and trusted us, even when I was shouting at them they understood I did this because I cared so much about their lives”.
Some of their Angolan friends became leaders of the Angola military.
Not all served as pilots, some were fighting on the ground. Performing different tasks, like guarding roads, etc.
Angolan soldiers liked Soviet weapons a lot.
For Soviet soldiers and officers this was exotic. They were not allowed to leave the USSR and see different countries, but in this way they could travel.
The roads through Angola were very dangerous. Guerrilla warriors were setting ambushes all over the place.
“I saw over 360 burned out vehicles – tanks, etc – until we got to the place through the jungle”, remembers one Soviet officer.
“This was a strange war”, he remembers “sort of a mix of peace and war, but for us it was just a job, a job in another country, sort of an adventure with risks and dangers”.
“It was not endless fighting like in World War 2, on the contrary we had months of peaceful life, celebrating different holidays – both Russian and Angolan, going to the beach, etc”.
Here is an Angolan beach.
“We were always finding some alcohol to drink. Spanish wine, Cuban rome, beer cans – we had plenty of those”.
Many Soviet officers came with their wives so there were a lot of Soviet women present as well.
Officially it was considered that Soviet officers were not participating in the war. This is what was stated in UN sessions by the Soviet side. “However I was participating at least in 134 days of hot war”, remembers another Russian officer.
Cuban forces were also present on the ground and were cooperating with Soviet coleagues.