Russia and US do not need Qabala Radar

Russia and US do not need Qabala Radar

The Russian Defense Ministry has expressed its disappointment with the “unconstructive approach” of Azerbaijan in prolonging the lease of the Qabala Radar, RIA Novosti reports.

Azerbaijan demanded the lease price for the radar to increase from $7 to $300 million in March. There is no reason for such a dramatic change of price, the Russian ministry said. The annual lease is worth building two new similar radars in Russia. Moreover, the Qabala Radar needs modernization. Russia wants to use it for 10-15 more years.

Fikret Sadykhov, a political analyst and professor of the Western University in Baku, told Vestnik Kavkaza that the new price ought to have firm grounds. He expressed confidence that negotiations should take mutual interests into account. Russia will have to leave Qabala and build own radar, if Azerbaijan persists. The US prefer satellite monitoring and refused to use the radar together with Russia last year.

Vladimir Yevseyev, Director of the Center for Socio-Political Studies, said that the US does not need it. The US prefers radars with a range of 1500-1900 km, such as the one in Turkey. He does not understand the reason for such a price increase. The real price for renting the facility should be similar to the price for the Kyrgyz air base of Manas, leased by the US for $30 million, or should drop to even $20-25 million.

Russia is concluding construction of the second block of the Armavir Radar. The Qabala Radar has a range of 5,000-7,000 km, the Armavir Radar has 4,000-5,000 km. Russia provided Azerbaijan with S-300 missile defenses in 2011. But Azerbaijan signed a $1.6 billion contract with Israel, causing concerns in Russia and Turkey.

Yevseyev noted that the construction of a resort and sanatorium in Qabala is doubtful and would be more expensive, because Azerbaijan can only rely on Russia in case of a war between the US and Iran.

The Qabala Radar was part of the Soviet missile shield. It became Azerbaijani property after the Soviet collapse. A deal on the lease of the radar was signed in 2002 and it expires on December 24, 2012. Russia wants to extend the lease until 2025 and expects to reach an agreement by June 2012.

Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed joint use of the radar to the US as an alternative to US missile defenses in the Czech Republic in 2007. 

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