Soviet foreign policy towards Angola: An analysis of trends under Brezhnev and Gorbachev (1974-1990)

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


International Studies

First Committee Member

Jiri Valenta - Committee Chair


Experts on Soviet-African relations during the 1960s and until the mid-1970s often espoused a popular notion that runs as follows: Africa occupied a secondary place in Moscow's foreign policy and as a result, the Soviets adopted a low profile policy on African issues. The Soviet Union's involvement in Angola did not only weakened this notion but, at the 25th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), the politburo, led by party ideologist Mikhail Suslov and Boris Ponomarev of the Central Committee's international department, also knowingly by demonstrating the emptiness of that argument by especially emphasizing the growing importance of Soviet African policy during the Brezhnev era. Soviet intervention in Angola represented a continuation of its traditional policy of backing national liberation movements in the Third World, and was more effective than in the past. Soviet strategy in taking advantage of new opportunities in Angola was combined with reactive elements in Soviet policy ensuring the MPLA presence in government after independence on November 11, 1975.The African continent has always been in the global political thinking of the Soviet Union, because they knew its political and strategic importance for Great Britain and France. They anticipated trade possibilities with other european countries regarded to be weak, such as Italy, Portugal, Belgium and established their trade missions with their former colonies such as Ethiopia, Sudan and Congo.Competition and rivalry among great powers in Africa was among the legacies the european leaders left behind one century ago in Berlin, Germany when they divided Africa among themselves as colonies, several with frontiers still in dispute. Although, both the Americans and the Russians were present at the conference, they did not participate in the "first scramble" of the African continent. Ironically, Moscow and Washington, during the Brezhnev era participated in the "second scramble", with surrogates and junior partners to help them, as the principal actors, in protecting their political, economic and strategic interests in Angola.


Political Science, International Law and Relations

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