Russia to Abandon Key Missile Defense Station – Baku

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The Russian army is giving up the Gabala radar it leased in Azerbaijan because of a disagreement over rental price, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday.Russia informed the Azerbaijani authorities about the pullout on Monday, the ministry said in a statement.

The lease, signed in 2002, was valid until December 24, 2012. Moscow and Baku have been in talks about prolonging the lease on Gabala until 2025 for more than a year.

The current lease stood at $7 million a year, but Azeri authorities wanted to hike it to $300 million, Russian daily Kommersant said in February.

Neither Russia nor Azerbaijan made any official comment on the lease prices being discussed, though an official of the Azeri presidential administration, Novruz Mamedov, told local news agency Trend on Monday that the current price was “symbolic” and that Gabala will be made into a resort instead.

Russia will replace the Gabala radar, a crucial element of its missile defense system, with a new station in Armavir in Russia’s southern Krasnodar Region, then-commander of Russia’s Space Forces, Oleg Ostapenko, said in September.

The Gabala station, which has a staff of 1,100, is capable of tracking missile launches and trajectories over the territories of Iran, Turkey, China, Pakistan, India, Iraq and Australia, as well as most of Africa and parts of Indian and Atlantic oceans.

The Russian military said that its new Voronezh-type radars will have comparable range while utilizing better equipment than the Gabala radar, opened in 1983. One Voronezh radar is already deployed in Armavir and another is set to be added by 2013.

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