Soviet–Angolan relations were strained at times during the 1980s, in part because Angola sought to upgrade diplomatic ties with the United States. Soviet leadership factions were divided over their nation's future role in Africa, and some Soviet negotiators objected to Angolan President José Eduardo dos Santos's concessions to the United States on the issue of "linkage". The region's intractable political problems, and the cost of maintaining Cuban troop support and equipping the MPLA-PT, weakened the Soviet commitment to the building of a Marxist-Leninist state in Angola.
Angolan leaders, in turn, complained about Soviet neglect—low levels of assistance, poor-quality personnel and matériel, and inadequate responses to complaints. Angola shared the cost of the Cuban military presence and sought to reduce these expenses, in part because many Angolan citizens felt the immediate drain on economic resources and rising tensions in areas occupied by Cuban troops. Moreover, dos Santos complained that the Soviet Union dealt with Angola opportunistically—purchasing Angolan coffee at low prices and re-exporting it at a substantial profit, overfishing in Angolan waters, and driving up local food prices.