Russia alarms Aliyev by refusing Gabala radar station

Russia alarms Aliyev by refusing Gabala radar station

Moscow made the right choice by refusing Gabala radar station because of excessive lease price of $300 mln Azerbaijan claimed.

The move was an expected one: Russia suspended operation of Gabala radar station located in Azerbaijan. The Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan declared that “During the talks, Azerbaijan demonstrated readiness to further cooperate with Russia to extend the lease term of Gabala radar station by Moscow. However, the negotiations failed to bring the parties to a consensus over the rental price of the station.”

PanARMENIAN.Net - Moscow made the right choice by refusing Gabala radar station because of excessive lease price of $300 mln Azerbaijan claimed.

Before abandoning the contract, Moscow used to pay $7 mln for the rental per year. Gabala is a Daryal-type radar station, part of Russia’s missile warning system and one of the nine similar stations built in the Soviet Union. The construction started in 1976, and the station was put on combat duty in 1985. This radar station has been a crucial element of the missile defense system of the Soviet Union and aimed to protect southern borders of USSR, with the range of up to 8,000 kilometres. This sufficed to intercept missile launch from as far as the Indian Ocean; also, the radar station fully comprised the territory of most states in Africa and Middle East, as well as Turkey, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, India, China and all countries of Southeast Asia including Australia.

Attempts of Ilham Aliyev’s administration to justify the excessive price and assure everybody that the Azerbaijani-Russian relations will maintain the former level are at least ridiculous. Baku, namely the deputy head of Azerbaijani presidential administration Novruz Mamedov declared that “suspension of the operation of Gabal radar station will not affect the relations between Azerbaijan and Russia.”

“Talks over Gabala had been underway for the past several months. Our goal is to bring the cooperation on this station up to the level of current requirements. We implement the current cooperation with Russia within the global conditions, and we want to further pursue it in accordance with them. This means raising the lease price of this radar station up to the international requirements,” Mamedov said.

Still, Baku's strategists forget that the radar functions only within the comprehensive global system of missile attack warning; this is what Azerbaijan lacks, and will hardly ever have one. Indeed, money can buy anything Aliyev wants, and he does want too much recently. Aliev should have looked at his old foe friend Mikheil Saakashvili; neither the U.S. nor Europe helped him, and he is now left face to face with his sworn enemies. It seems as if developments in the neighbouring countries have nothing to do with him. Anyway, he'd better not ruin the relations with Russia; the latter may support Armenia in Karabakh conflict. So what will Baku do in this case? Russia, however weak Aliyev and Saakahvili's new bosses may wish to see it, may appear to be too tough for them...

Meanwhile, Voronezh radar station set to be put into operation in February 2013 in Armavir is expected to cover the range of Gabala station. The Armavir station will excel Gabala in its parameters and tackle the relevant tasks more efficiently. The establishment of a network of new Voronezh-type radars is implemented within the State Armament Programme 2011-2020.

Currently, Voronezh-type radars are located in Lekhtusi (Leningrad region) on combat duty, Pionerskoe (Kalinigrad region) and Usolye-Sibirskoe (Irkutsk region).

So, Baku made a hasty move; though, taking into account Iran as the main target for the offensive planned by Azerbaijan’s new allies, Aliyev’s position is justified. Anyway, it is still unclear whether he will profit from it or not, and these doubts are caused by Russia’s stance. Some sources claim that Vladimir Putin is going to radically review the ties with Azerbaijan, and abandoning Gabala is just the beginning.

Karine Ter-Sahakian
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