Diplomatic relations between Nigeria and the Soviet Union was established shortly after Nigeria gained Independence in 1960. In the maiden address of H.E. Tafawa Balewa, Prime Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, to World Leaders at the United Nations, he emphasized that Africa must not be allowed to become the battleground in the ideological struggle between the East and the West and reiterated Nigeria’s non-alignment to any of the Power blocs. This enabled Nigeria to enjoy cordial relations with the Soviet Union while also maintaining friendly relations with the West.
During the Nigeria Civil War from 1967-1970, the USSR provided the Nigerian Federal Government with political and military assistance. Its unwavering support led to the defeat of the agitated separatists and the unification of Nigeria which lasts to this day. After the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, Nigeria continued diplomatic relations with the Russian Federation which intensified during the regime of former Head of State, Sani Abacha.
In 2001 and 2009 former Presidents Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Dmitri Medvedev’s exchanged visit, the visits, no doubt, spurred up more robust relations between Nigeria and Russia in the following years. A former Nigerian Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe visited Moscow in 2009 during which he held talks with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov and with President Medvedev. The said visit produced Agreements on activating the realization of both countries potentials in trade and economic spheres, execution of projects in infrastructure, electric power generation, and nuclear energy. Another high level official visit was that of Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Geoffrey Onyeama on 29th May, 2017, during which he held bilateral talks with his Russian counterpart Mr. Sergei Lavrov. The visit was aimed at deepening economic and political relations with the Russian Federation. Mr. Onyeama and Lavrov leading their countries delegations at their meeting discussed wide range of issues that included steady development of bilateral ties in Political, Economic and Humanitarian spheres. Specifically, they both reviewed the state of bilateral relations between their countries, hinged on the principles of equality, mutual respect and consideration for the interests of each other. They also expressed mutual willingness to expand political dialogue, further trade and economic and cultural-humanitarian ties and to take necessary action to streamline bilateral contractual-legal framework. Additionally, the two ministers agreed to expedite work on a number of important documents being discussed, noted the strong potential for cooperation in areas such as hydrocarbon production and processing, nuclear power, industry and agriculture, expressed mutual interest in furthering military-technical and military cooperation and training Nigerian civilian specialists and law enforcement officers at Russian universities.
The most recent interaction between the leadership of Nigeria and Russia was the meeting held between Presidents Muhammadu Buhari and Vladimir Putin in October, 2019 on the sideline of the first Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi, the Russian Federation. The meeting provided opportunity for the two leaders to reflect on the bilateral relations between their two countries. Among others, they both expressed the need to expand their relations in all areas for mutual benefits, in particular economic and trade, and education science and technology. They also agreed on speedy conclusion of all projects long abandoned by both countries and for the benefit of their peoples. In August, 2021, the Nigeria’s Minister of Defence Maj.Gen. Bashir Salihi Magashi (Rtd.) visited Russia during which the Military Technical Cooperation Agreement (MTCA) was signed, to further facilitate closer cooperation in defence and security between Nigeria and Russia. This Agreement renewed an earlier one signed in 2017 on the same subject of cooperation.