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ARMAVIR, Krasnodar territory, June 19 (Itar-Tass) — Russia’s possible decision not to lease the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan will not harm national security, Aerospace Defense Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said on Tuesday.
“Even if we decide not to use [the Daryal missile attack warning radar in Gabala, Azerbaijan], we will do that in a way, which will prevent any damage to our country, its security and defense ability. This is our main goal,” he said.
New radar stations of the Project ‘Voronezh” operating in decimeter and meter ranges will compensate for the possible abandonment of the Gabala radar, the general said.
“A radar station in Armavir is capable of accomplishing the mission, which has been being accomplished by the Gabala radar. It will operate even better,” Ostapenko said. Asked whether the Armavir radar was really superior to the Gabala station, he said, “Absolutely.”
Ostapenko gave an evasive answer about the current status of the Russian-Azerbaijani negotiations on leasing the Gabala radar. “I would rather not make detailed comment on the Gabala radar issue. Decisions will be made, and we will act according to them,” he said.
The general said though that the latest bestowing of state awards on the Project Voronezh supervisors was not accidental.
At the same time, he admitted that Russia could still use the Gabala station. “Any site with a particular mission is in demand,” he said.
The period of Russia’s rent of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan will expire in the end of this year. The annual rent payment of Russia amounts to $7 million under the accord dated the year 2002.
Azerbaijani Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov said in November 2011 that the rent must be raised to several hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The current rent payment of $7 million is inadequate to the importance of this radar station for Russian side, in the light of its national interests and regional and international security, and the risks and threats the Azerbaijani Republic may encounter in further operation of the radar station. I think that several hundreds of millions of dollars should be discussed in the consideration of a new rent payment,” he said.
Also, Azerbaijan demanded minimization of the radar station’s impact on the environment, an increased number of local personnel at the radar station and auxiliary facilities, and a higher electricity tariff.
The Gabala Daryal radar station is a component of the Russian missile attack warning network. It was built in the Soviet period as a Soviet missile defense site. Under the agreement of 2002, the station received the status of an information and analytical center. It is located in northwestern Azerbaijan, approximately 300 kilometers away from Baku.