Russia’s Defense Ministry is disappointed by the lack of progress in talks with Azerbaijan over extending the lease of the missile defense radar station in Azeri town of Gabala, a source in the ministry said on Thursday.
“The Russian military is disappointed by the non-constructive approach from the Azerbaijani side concerning the talks on extending the lease of the Gabala missile radar,” the source said, adding that Moscow would likely leave Gabala if the talks did not move ahead.
Russia has been negotiated with Azerbaijan to extend the lease of the Soviet-era radar, which it has operated under a 2002 agreement due to expire on December 24 this year.
The Russian Kommersant business daily reported in late February that Azerbaijan had demanded Russia pay $300 million instead of the previously agreed $7 million for the lease, which Russia is seeking to extend until 2025.
The source in the Russian Defense Ministry also said that size of the price increase was unreasonable, since the radar needed a full renovation and the sum Baku was demanding for the lease was comparable to the cost of constructing a new radar.
In 2007 Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested sharing Gabal radar station with the United States, instead of deploying the NATO missile defense shield in Czech Republic.
In early April, Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan said that Yerevan was ready to provide a site on its territory for construction of a new Russian radar station if Moscow failed to agree on extending the Gabala with Azerbaijan.
On Wednesday Russia placed its new Voronezh-M long-range missile warning radar on duty in the Irkutsk region of Siberia, marking a major increase in its missile early warning system capability.
The new Voronezh-M station can detect ballistic targets up to 6000 kilometers and cover an arc from India to the United States.
Moscow has been concerned by U.S. plans to expand missile the defense shield in Europe, and announced in early May that it could introduce its massive Don-2NP radar system near Moscow as part of an agreement with NATO on a European missile defense plan to counter medium and long-range missiles.
The Don-2 radar, known to U.S. arms control negotiators in the 1980’s as the “pyramid” and to NATO as Pill Box, was put into operation around 1989, and was the centerpiece of the USSR’s anti-missile defense system. The 100-meter square, 45 meter high phased-array radar, with 360 degree coverage, could detect small objects in space, and was linked to interceptor missiles.