Russia Alarms Aliyev By Refusing Gabala Radar Station


December 11, 2012

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.”

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

Karine Ter-Sahakian

From: Baghdasarian