Soviet Union Table of Contents
Although the Comintern previously had made low-level contacts with local communist parties, sub-Saharan Africa was an area of limited concern to the Soviet Union until Khrushchev's reassessment of the Third World in the mid-1950s. Although Khrushchev initiated economic "show projects" in several African countries, Soviet efforts to foster socialism in Africa foundered in the Congo in the early 1960s, in Guinea in 1961, and in Kenya in 1965 partly because the Soviet Union was unable to project military power effectively into Africa.
During the first few years of the Brezhnev period, the amount of economic assistance to Africa declined from the levels of the Khrushchev period, although it increased greatly in the mid-1970s. During the Brezhnev period, the Soviet ability to project power grew, enabling it to take advantage of several opportunities in Africa during the 1970s.
Because of the deteriorating economic situation in the Soviet Union in the 1980s, economic assistance to Africa declined. Military assistance was maintained or increased in some instances in the face of insurgencies against so-called revolutionary democracies. Angola, Ethiopia, and Mozambique, all of which were fighting insurgencies, were major recipients of arms throughout the 1980s.
At the Twenty-Seventh Party Congress, Gorbachev called for a reorientation of relations with the Third World. He stressed the need to improve relations with the more developed, Westernoriented , Third World states while maintaining existing relations with other African states. In Africa the Soviet Union pursued closer relations with relatively more developed African states such as Nigeria and Zimbabwe. Gorbachev also reiterated Soviet support for the overthrow of the government of South Africa and support for the "frontline" states (states near or bordering South Africa) opposing South Africa: Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. As part of a Soviet attempt to coordinate Soviet policy toward southern Africa, a new office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was created to deal with the frontline states. In 1988-89 Soviet hostility toward the South African regime softened, and the two countries worked together diplomatically in resolving regional conflicts and issues such as negotiations over the independence of Namibia.
Data as of May 1989