Skip to main content Skip to navigation

Dr Natalia Telepneva

British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow

Title: 'Winning the Development Endgame: The Political Economy of Soviet Cold War in Africa, 1974-1991'

Room: H343, Humanities Building

Phone: 02476573490 (internal extension 73490)


  Academic Career:

2017-present: British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Warwick

2016-2017: Research Associate for AHRC-funded project Socialism Goes Global, The UCL School of Slavonic and East European Studies (SSEES)

2014-2017: Teaching Associate, London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE)

2010-2014: DPhil, International History, LSE

2008-2010: MA in International and Global History (double degree), LSE and Columbia University, NYC

2005-2008: BSc International Relations and History, LSE

Research Interests:

I am a historian of Soviet foreign policy with a particular interest in Warsaw Pact interactions with the African elites. I am currently working on a monograph, titled "Cold War Liberation: The Soviet Union and the End of the Portuguese Empire in Africa, 1961-1976”. Based on Russian, East and Central European archival sources, as well as interviews with key protagonists, the manuscript explores the roles of African and Soviet agency during the anti-colonial wars in the Portuguese colonies and the transformation of the conflict in a Cold War hotspot.

Development and the End of the Cold War. My current research project, sponsored by the British Academy, seeks to investigate the political economy of the Soviet Cold War in Africa between 1974 and 1991. It focuses on Soviet development assistance in Africa and on how Moscow’s experience of engagement with modernisation and state-building of key allies in the region such as Ethiopia, Angola and Mozambique affected not only the Cold War in Africa, but also debates about reform in the Soviet Union. It is preliminary titled 'Winning the Development Endgame: The Political Economy of Soviet Cold War in Africa, 1974-1991'. In addition to economic development, I investigate the role of Soviet and Eastern European military and intelligence training on violent non-state actors.

Espionage and Secret Intelligence in Africa. I continue to investigate the history of Soviet and Eastern bloc intelligence operations in Africa. My forthcoming article for the Journal of Cold War Studies focuss on Soviet and Czechoslovak attempts to launch a counter-coup in Ghana. In 2017-2018, I have participated in conferencs in Moscow and Chicago, where I explore the link between the Czechoslovak intelligence and anti-colonial movements in Lusophone Africa. With this project, I focus on the impact of human intelligence on the Cold War and investigate how methods used by secret agencies affected the construction of the security state in post-independent Africa. I am presenting my findings in March 2018 at the Contemporary History Institute, University of Lisbon.

East and Central Europe/Diplomacy in Africa. In collaboration with Phil E. Muehlenbeck, I have drawn out the role of Soviet East and Central European allies in Africa, specifically looking at the role of Czechoslovakia. Our jointly edited volume (forthcoming, April 2018), is to explore the role of Soviet allies in the Third World. I have presented my findings in a public lecture in Prague in December 2018.

Select Publications:

'Saving Ghana’s Revolution: The Demise of Kwame Nkrumah and The Evolution of Soviet Policy in Africa, 1966-1970', Journal of Cold War Studies, Vol. 20, No. 4 (Fall 2018): 4–25

'Cold War on the Cheap: Soviet and Czechoslovak Intelligence in the Congo, 1960-1963' in Philip Muehlenbeck and Natalia Telepneva, eds, Warsaw Pact Intervention in the ‘Third World’: Aid and Influence in the Cold War (London: IB Tauris, 2018).

'Mediators of Liberation: Eastern Bloc Officials, Mozambican Diplomacy and the Origins of Soviet Support for FRELIMO 1958-1965', Journal of Southern African Studies, Vol. 43, Issue 1 (January 2017): 1-15.

PhD Thesis:

'Our Sacred Duty: The Soviet Union, the Liberation Movements in the Portuguese Colonies, and the Cold War, 1961-1975.' PhD Thesis. London School of Economics, 2015. Open Access.