Skip to content

The Soviet Union in the Horn of Africa

 A selection of documents used in the writing of Radoslav A. Yordanov's The Soviet Union and the Horn of Africa during the Cold War: Between Ideology and Pragmatism (2016). Originating from Serbia, Romania, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Germany, the UK and the US, the sample of materials offer a glimpse of the variety of political, economic and military issues with which the Soviet Union had to deal regarding Somalia and Ethiopia throughout the Cold War, focusing not only on relations with the local states, but also with its East European allies, China, Cuba and the West.

Popular Documents

January 16, 1978

British Foreign Office, 'Soviet Role in the Horn of Africa'

Drawing upon British concerns with respect to their possible reaction to Moscow’s support for Ethiopia against Somalia’s aggression, the Foreign Office Planning Staff looks into the wider international implications of the conflict in the Horn.

May 10, 1977

Letter from Roger Barltrop of British Embassy in Addis Ababa, 'The Derg'

Information obtained by the British from an Ethiopian officer who defected to West Germany. His report shows the strong influence of the Soviet Union in the Derg at the time.

September 2, 1977

Message from Yugolav Embassy Addis Ababa, 'The Soviet Ambassador on the Ethiopian-Soviet Relations'

A detailed view of Soviet reactions toward the Ethiopian-Somali conflict as of early September 1977, showing Moscow’s envoy to Addis Ababa’s conviction that Ethiopia would emerge victorious from the war. However, this document also gives a somewhat critical view on the part of Yugoslav’s diplomat regarding the Soviets’ unofficial and unsuccessful attempt to persuade Ethiopia to surrender part of Ogaden in order to appease the Somalis.

July 12, 1975

Telegram from Yugoslav Ambassador in Mogadishu Hocevar

Belgrade’s envoy to Mogadishu outlines the potential Somali rationale behind the invitation of Western observers to inspect Soviet facilities in Berbera. International attention surrounded the facilities following rumors and intelligence that the port was actually a military base.

March 23, 1977

Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 'Cuban Ambassador to Maputo commented on President Fidel Castro’s trip to some African countries'

The information obtained by Romania’s ambassador to Maputo by his Cuban counterpart not only continues Castro’s praise of Mengistu’s revolutionary zeal, but also sheds more light on the wide scope of the Cuban President’s endeavors on the African continent.