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Uganda: The Soviet Union
Country Study > Chapter 4 > Government and Politics > Foreign Relations > The Soviet Union


As part of its proclaimed policy of nonalignment, Uganda established friendly relations with the Soviet Union in 1965. But with the exception of a few years in the mid-1970s when the Soviet Union became Amin's main source of military supplies, its involvement with Uganda was relatively minor. During the 1960s, its major aid project in Uganda was a large textile mill located in the town of Lira. The Soviet Union also provided limited military assistance to Uganda, and Amin's 1971 coup was immediately denounced by Pravda as reactionary. Soon after taking power, Amin expelled most of the Soviet military team, and relations between the two countries remained correct but mutually suspicious. After 1973 -- following Amin's break with Israel, the United States, and Britain -- the Ugandan-Soviet relationship became far more visible. Hundreds of Ugandan army and air force recruits went to the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe for training. Soviet fighter aircraft, missiles, and armored personnel carriers were delivered to Amin. But the Soviet Union refused Amin's request for assistance to meet the Tanzanian invasion of 1979. The NRM government established cordial relations with Moscow in 1986, and the following year, the Soviet Union agreed to rehabilitate the Lira textile mill and donated US$50,000 worth of medical supplies to Mulago Hospital in Kampala.

Through its first five years in power, the NRM government's foreign policy was a blend of nonaligned diplomacy and a pragmatic search for economic and military assistance from donors across the military spectrum. But domestic problems, more than foreign policy concerns, dominated the political agenda. Establishing democratic structures at the grass-roots level and defining and implementing RC operations had not yet been accomplished by late 1990. Establishing peace nationwide and furthering the economic recovery also promised to challenge the NRM government throughout most of the 1990s.

The literature on Uganda, particularly on the past two decades, is relatively small but informative. There is no published guide to Ugandan political and administrative institutions, perhaps because the government has been in a state of flux for many years. However, Ugandan government publications are frequently useful in explaining both policy and the purposes of public institutions. The most useful sources of background material are J. Jørgensen's Uganda: A Modern History; G. Ibingira's The Forging of an African Nation; N. Kasfir's The Shrinking Political Arena; and M. Mamdani's Imperialism and Fascism in Uganda. O. Furley's "Britain and Uganda from Amin to Museveni" in K. Rupesinghe's Conflict Resolution in Uganda is helpful in setting out the changes in Uganda's foreign relations with Britain and the United States during the Amin and second Obote regimes. M. Mamdani's "Uganda in Transition" provides a useful interpretation of politics under the NRM government. Excellent sources for contemporary reportage include the newspapers The New Vision and Weekly Topic, both published in Kampala; the quaterly Country Report: Uganda, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti written by the Economist Intelligence Unit; and Keesing's Record of World Events. (For further information and complete citations, see Bibliography.)

Data as of December 1990

Last Updated: December 1990

Editor's Note: Country Studies included here were published between 1988 and 1998. The Country study for Uganda was first published in 1990. Where available, the data has been updated through 2008. The date at the bottom of each section will indicate the time period of the data. Information on some countries may no longer be up to date. See the "Research Completed" date at the beginning of each study on the Title Page or the "Data as of" date at the end of each section of text. This information is included due to its comprehensiveness and for historical purposes.

Note that current information from the CIA World Factbook, U.S. Department of State Background Notes, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Country Briefs, the UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office's Country Profiles, and the World Bank can be found on

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