‘US does not think war in Iran could worsen situation in Karabakh’
Wed 07 March 2012 08:00 GMT | 8:00 Local Time
News.Az interviews Fedor Lukyanov, chief editor of the `Russia in
global policy’ magazine.
Do not you think frivolous Russian media reports that Azerbaijan has
demanded Russia for the rent of the Gabala radar station the amount
exceeding the previous rent more than 40 times?
I think it can be anything you want. In the end, it is clear that in
the course of negotiations, all parties are interested in how to get
more and give less. This is normal. However, the amount of USD 300m is
absolutely prohibitive and so I think that even if someone has put
forward this idea, it is certainly not passable. And if there is
seemingly a change in compensation, it is quite possible, because
Russia is interested in preserving the Gabala station.
Why does Russia need it?
Russia needs it at least to continue a long and difficult talk with
the US on missile defence. As we remember, Putin even 5 years ago
proposed to integrate this station into the overall system and to lose
this station would be inappropriate. On the other hand, to expect that
Russia would be willing to pay any amount to preserve it is not worth.
So I think there should be some sort of compromise.
And what if the Americans once again declare that they are not
interested in this station? And why does Russia keep it if it had
built a modern station in Armavir?
You know, the Americans today say that are not interested in it but no
one knows it they will change their minds or not. Remember the story
in 2007 when the American side in the face of Condoleezza Rice and
Gates in Moscow as part of negotiations on missile defense first
stated that they were interested in this station. And then President
Bush announced that they did not need it. And again, after some time
when Bush had already left the presidency, Gates openly said that the
proposal for joint use of Gabala radar station was rejected in vain
because the idea was interesting and had something to discuss.
So Americans do not need it now but then they might need. In general,
this is an asset which, I believe, Russia will not give up. Putin, in
his time made ??a big gesture, having closed back in 2001 two major
military facilities – a naval base in Vietnam and the tracking station
in Cuba. In return we got nothing. This is, as to say, was seen as a
tribute to the US which simply said: `Well done, thank you’. And now,
I think, Moscow regrets it because hardly anyone would actively use
them but to give them would be wrong because the asset is an asset.
Now Russia has such assets outside the former Soviet Union only in
Syria. For this reason, it will try to keep on the safe side all that
still remains, whether it’s the Black Sea Fleet base in Gumri or
station in Gabala, since they may still be useful.
Will not the arrival of Americans in Gabala outrage Iran?
I think it will outrage Iran and most importantly ` Russia. If
Americans come to Gabala instead of Russia, Moscow will see it as a
very unfriendly act.
Can a possible war in Iran provoke renewal of the Armenian-Azerbaijani
war for Karabakh?
This issue is very delicate and little mentioned. It’s clear that it
will not provoke it directly, because the two issues are not connected
with each other. But in my opinion, the situation in Karabakh, the
status quo, even though it’s fragile and everyone complains about it,
nevertheless, it is quite stable because it’s based on the existing
balance of forces of interests not only of Azerbaijan and Armenia but
also external powers. In general, if not the best but this situation
is still satisfactory for all. That is, I do not see the internal
dynamics, which, despite all the statements of Baku and Yerevan, can
escalate the conflict from within. But some outside influence, which
just destabilizes the situation, can change it, I think. And a major
conflict over Iran with internal destabilization in this country, the
influx of refugees etc. can drive the situation in the region out of
By the way, we should not forget that Iran on the one hand is
connected with Azerbaijan by many ties and on the other hand, this
country is the only normal border for Armenia, because the rest of its
borders are either closed or half closed, as in the case with Georgia.
That is, it will certainly have an impact and in unfavorable
circumstances will be a factor that may push the situation out of the
status quo. It is not necessary but this possibility should be
considered. Anyway it’s clear that the US does not take into account
this possibility and they feel no need to do so.