Saving Ghana's revolution: the demise of Kwame Nkrumah and the evolution of Soviet policy in Africa, 1966–1972

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On 24 February 1966, Ghana's first president, Kwame Nkrumah, was overthrown in a coup d’état. The coup rekindled a debate within the Soviet bloc about the prospects of socialism in Africa and about the appropriateness of certain policies. Soviet officials concluded that they would have to focus on establishing close relations with the armies and internal security forces of African countries. This article explores how Nkrumah's loyalists in exile and their sympathizers in Ghana attempted to launch a leftwing counter-coup in Accra in 1968 and the involvement of Warsaw Pact countries—notably the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia—in those events. The article sheds new light on “Operation ALEX,” a botched attempt by the Czechoslovak intelligence service to support Nkrumah loyalists in their plans for a countercoup. The article reexamines the late 1960s as an important period for the militarization of the Cold War in Africa and highlights the crucial role that African politicians themselves played in this process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-25
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Cold War Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 22 Feb 2019


  • Soviet Union
  • Ghana
  • West Africa
  • secret agent
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Cold War

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