Natalia Telepneva


  • United Kingdom

Accepting PhD Students

Personal profile

Personal Statement

I joined the University of Strathclyde in 2019 as Lecturer in International History. My main research lies in the history of the Soviet Union and the Cold War and the history of socialism, especially in Africa. My first book, entitled "Cold War Liberation: The Soviet Union and the Collapse of Portuguese Empire in Africa, 1961-1975" examines Soviet support for anticolonial movements in Angola, Mozambique and Guinea-Bissau. It is now available in open access as part of UNC's New Cold War History series. 

I have published on the history of Soviet and Czechoslovak involvement in Africa in a number of peer-reviewed journals and co-edited. I have co-edited an edited volume the “Warsaw Pact Intervention in the Third World" (2018) and special issue for the International History Review, "Secret Struggle for the Global South" (2020). My current research project looks at the history of war and revolution in Guinea-Bissau. I also continue to investigage Soviet policy in sub-Saharan Africa.

Before moving to the University of Strathclyde, I taught at the University of Warwick and the London School of Economics. I was the recipient of the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2017-2020. 

Research Interests

I am a historian of Soviet foreign policy with a particular interest in the history of socialism and the Global Cold War in Africa. My first book, "Cold War Liberation: The Soviet Union and the End of the Portuguese Empire in Africa, 1961-1976” explores Soviet support for anti-colonial movements in the Portuguese colonies. The book recovers the role of Soviet bureaucratic and military elites in the Soviet Cold War and re-interprets the internationalisation of the Angolan Civil War in 1974-75. My current research interests lie in the following inter-related fields:

Espionage and Secret Intelligence in Africa. I continue to investigate the history of Soviet and Eastern bloc intelligence operations in Africa. My focus is on human intelligence, and I have written extensively on Soviet and Czechoslovak intelligence in Ghana, the Congo and Guinea-Bissau. In collaboration with Dr. Daniela Richterova at Brunel, I have co-edited a special issue, "Secret Struggle for the Global South" for the International History Review. The special issue explores the role of espionage, military assistance, and state security in the 'Global Cold War'. I have contributed to the "Secret Struggle for Cold War Dominance" podcast, which is based on the articles in the special issue.

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 "Warsaw Pact Intervention in the Third World (I.B. Tauris, 2018) explores the role of Soviet allies in the Third World. I have published on Soviet and Czechoslovak intelligence in the Journal of Cold War Studies, and International History Review.

Development and the End of the Cold War. My new research project seeks to investigate the political economy of the Soviet Cold War in Africa between 1974 and 1991. In particular, 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 affected debates about reform in the Soviet Union. My main case study looks at the post-war history of Guinea-Bissau to explore how different groups of people understood and related to Soviet socialism. The first part of my research was to conduct oral history interviews with former guerilla fighters who studied in the USSR. The interviews were conducted in Bissau in 2019. The project was funded by the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2017-2020.

I tweet at @nat_telepneva

Teaching Interests

The courses I teach correspond to my research interests. I teach courses on the Russian Revolution, the Soviet Union and the Cold War in Africa.

Undergraduate Level

V1711/V1712 The Russian Revolution and its Global Impact, 1917-1928 (course convener)

V1707/1708 The Last Empire: The History of the Soviet Union, 1917-1991 (course convener)

Postgraduate level

V1993 Diplomacy: Evolution, Theory and Practice (co-taught course)

V1999 Red Continent: Africa and the Global Cold War (course convener)

Expertise related to UN Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, UN member states agreed to 17 global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all. This person’s work contributes towards the following SDG(s):

  • SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities
  • SDG 16 - Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

Education/Academic qualification

Doctor of Philosophy, Our Sacred Duty: The Soviet Union, the Liberation Movements in the Portuguese Colonies, and the Cold War, 1961-1975, London School of Economics

Award Date: 12 Jan 2015

Master of Arts, International and Global History, Columbia University (New York) and LSE (double degree)

Award Date: 1 Sept 2010

Bachelor of Social Science, International Relations and History, London School of Economics


  • Soviet Union
  • Africa
  • Cold War
  • secret intelligence
  • Portugal
  • socialism
  • Angola
  • Mozambique
  • Guinea-Bisau
  • civil wars


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