NOVO-OGARYOVO, December 11 (Itar-Tass) —— Russia’s security will not be affected if it no longer uses the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan, press secretary to the Russian president, Dmitry Peskov, said on Tuesday.
“Russia has enough potential to compensate for Gabala in case it is no longer operated,” he stressed. He recalled that back in 2007, Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed during the G-8 summit in Germany to jointly use the Gabala radar, if Washington scrapped its plans to build missile defence facilities in Eastern Europe.
“He then suggested that Gabala’s infrastructure should be used with a subsequent use of the infrastructure of the Armavir radar station,” Peskov noted.
“No doubt, everything will be done to ensure Russia’s security, both in terms of technology and infrastructure,” he stressed. He however noted that he had no information about the reasons underlying its suspension, since he was not an insider of the talks on that station. But Russia has enough resources to compensate for its suspension.
Russia suspended as of December 10, the operation of the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Monday.
It said no agreement on payments for the lease of the station could be reached at the talks with Russia. According to the statement, the sides have failed to reach an agreement of the rent costs. “Since the Agreement on the Status, Principles and Terms of Operation of the Gabala Radar Station between the Governments of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation becomes ineffective from December 9, 2012, the Russian side presented a note to the Azerbaijani side on the suspension of the operation of the station from December 10 of this year,” the statement said.
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said on Tuesday that no offers had come from Azerbaijan to resume talks on the extension of the Gabala lease. “Since the Agreement on the Status, Principles and Terms of Operation of the Gabala Radar Station between the Governments of Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation expired from December 9, 2012, Russia suspended the operation of that station from December 10, 2012,” the spokesman said. “The Russian embassy in Baku presented to the Azerbaijani foreign ministry a corresponding note in due time.”
The Gabala Daryal radar station is a component of the Russian missile attack warning network. It was built in northwestern Azerbaijan, approximately 300 kilometers away from Baku, in 1985 as a Soviet missile defense site, one of nine stations of this type scattered about the former Soviet Union. In terms of technical characteristics, it is still the best Daryal-type early warning station. After Azerbaijan became an independent state, Russia used the station on lease terms. Under the agreement of 2002, the station received the status of an information and analytical center and was handed over to Russian on a ten-year lease. The annual rent was seven million U.S. dollars.
In 2007, when the United States announced its plans to build a collective missile defence system in Europe, Moscow offered to use the Gabala station in common interests. The offer was in force until recently. In April 2012, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Baku that if the United States were ready to begin a dialogue on the problem of missile defence, Russia would be ready to discuss any possible cooperation options, including the joint use of the Gabala station.
In May 2012, a new radar station, Voronezh-M was put in service near Russia’s Siberian city of Irkutsk, another one, Voronezh-DM station near Armavir in the Krasnodar Territory, will soon be tested.
It is planned to put the Armavir station into operation in the first quarter of 2013. That is why, Russia’s military command took the developments around the Gabala station calmly. Thus, in June 2012, Aerospace Defense Forces Commander Lt. Gen. Oleg Ostapenko said in Armavir that possible decision not to lease the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan would do no harm to national security.
"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."