Russian defense minister says radar station for Russian military use only
Associated Press Worldstream
May 20, 2004 Thursday
YEREVAN, Armenia — Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said
Thursday that there are no plans to let the United States use its
Soviet-era radar station in Azerbaijan.
“I don’t foresee that,” Ivanov said, after arriving in the Armenian
capital, Yerevan, for a two-day visit. “Even if I had a rich
imagination, I couldn’t foresee that. This station is for the sole
use of the Russian military.”
The Gabala radar station was built by the Soviet military to track
missiles in the southern hemisphere. After the Soviet collapse,
Azerbaijan – which shares a border with Iran to the south – grudgingly
allowed Russia to continue using the station, which is considered a
key part of Russia’s early warning system.
Azerbaijan has sought to develop a good military relationship with
Washington, leading to rumors – denied by U.S. officials – that the
U.S. military might establish a base there.
Meanwhile, Ivanov said that Russia is pleased with its military
relationship with Armenia, which is host to one Soviet-era military
base. Ivanov noted that two Russian Il-76 cargo planes, purchased by
Armenia at internal Russian prices, arrived in the ex-Soviet republic
on Thursday, and that 600 Armenian soldiers were currently studying
in Russian military academies.
Armenia has historically looked to Russia as an economic and political
strategic partner. Their relationship has sometimes angered Azerbaijan,
with which Armenia fought a war over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave.