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Gabala radar station at stake2012-04-06 18:43
Gabala radar station, located in Azerbaijan, may cost Moscow a pretty penny. Baku demanded to increase the rent for the use of radar - from seven million dollars to three hundred million dollars. While Moscow is deciding to pay that money or not, Armenia has decided to come for help. Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan of the Republic said the country was ready to provide its territory for construction of new radar.
Armenian media has repeatedly reported the information about the feasibility of a radar station in Armenia, which might replace an identical object in Azerbaijan.
Such urgent actualization of this topic in the Armenian press and political circles was caused by Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan's interview with Russian newspaper "Kommersant", which refers to the willingness of the Armenian side to discuss with Russia the issue of deploying a radar at the territory of Armenia. "I think Armenia is even more advantageous since it is mountainous country. The coverage may be wider", Sargsyan said.
Increased attention to the statement by the Armenian Prime Minister is due to a general regional context against the backdrop of rather specific talks between Moscow and Baku in Washington on the rent for the Gabala radar station. The Azeri side wants to raise it from 7 to 300 million dollars.
Armenian and Russian experts generally agree that, in principle, Russia could agree on construction of an identical facility at the territory of Armenia, if talks with Azerbaijan are unsuccessful.
However, the fact is that the Gabala radar station is not only military facility that has an extraordinary strategic importance for Russia. Its presence is an important geopolitical factor at the southern gates of the country. Gabala radar station is the only "anchor" of Moscow's military and political presence in the post-Soviet Azerbaijan, the foreign policy of which is not entirely clear for the Kremlin. The isshue also should be considered in a broader regional context: Georgia, sticking to a clear course of the West; Azerbaijan, incomprehensible for Russia; and Armenia, balancing between the West and the Russian Federation.
The situation is exacerbated by the aggravation of the general situation in Iran and Syria, which, according to observers, are considering Azerbaijan as Israel's springboard to launch anti-Iranian campaign. In this regard, leakage of information from the Pentagon through the American authoritative publication Foreign Policy on the fact that Israel has got access to military bases in Azerbaijan that will be used for refueling and arming the Israeli planes, is not accidental. Thus, the Gabala radar station must be considered from two aspects: the military and political factor of Moscow's presence at the borders of the broader Middle East and the element of geopolitical haggle with the United States on the issue of deploying missile defense systems in Turkey and Europe.