Diplomatic relations between Russia (USSR at the time) and Tanzania were established on December 11, 1961.

Through Dar es Salaam, which became a second home to freedom fighters all over the continent, the Soviet Union provided material support to national liberation movements in South Africa, Mozambique, South Rhodesia and Namibia. Racism and colonialism, apartheid, discrimination and inequality on the African continent were regarded as natural evils by both Tanzania and the Soviet Union

June 1995 saw the signing of the protocol on consultations between respective foreign ministries of the two countries. Such consultations took place in Dar es Salaam in 2011.

In recent years, Russia's relations with Africa, and Tanzania in particular, have picked up a new momentum. With continuous political dialogue, stronger economic, humanitarian and cultural ties, cooperation on matters of security and counter-terrorism, Russia is in close touch with continental and regional organizations, including the African Union, SADC, EAC and others.

Foreign Minister of the Kikwete administration Bernard Membe visited Moscow on January 15 and 16, 2015, where he held talks with his Russian colleague Sergey Lavrov.

In April 2016, Dar es Salaam hosted the Russia-Africa business forum, with the Russian delegation headed by Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov.

The Russia-Tanzania trade amounts to about 127 mln dollars, including Russian exports to Tanzania of 79.1 mln. Russia mostly sells crops, meat products, cement, chemicals, equipment and machinery. Tanzanian exports are mostly represented by coffee, tea, spices, tobacco, oils, fruit and vegetables, nuts, flowers and gemstones.