Russia and Angola: The Rebirth of a Strategic Partnership?

Africa and Russia in general, and Angola and Russia in particular, have a long-standing friendship dating back to the days when the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) was assisting African national liberation movements in gaining independence.

The USSR forged a strategic alliance with the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola, which remains to this day the ruling party in Angola, led by the same head figure. Although the friendship survived the fall of the USSR in 1991 and the most devastating phase of Angola’s civil war, the nature of the relationship changed dramatically under Russia. Having gone through a dormant period in the 1990s, the last decade has been prolific in efforts to revive the partnership on both sides, with a clear emphasis on the economic dimension. Notwithstanding, and despite meaningful progress at diplomatic and political levels, the expansion of economic ties remains sluggish.

The paper offers a comprehensive analysis of contemporary Russia–Angola relations across various dimensions – foreign policy, diplomatic ties, co-operation, trade and investment, and civil-society links – in a bid to identify synergies and challenges in the partnership and ways to address them. The authors argue that both Angola and Russia need to be more strategic in aligning their interests, and more proactive in carving out efficient bilateral instruments and mechanisms in order to promote economic exchanges and reap the benefits of a fully-fledged partnership.

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