Russia ready to modernize Gabala radar station

Russia's First Deputy Chief of Staff of Space Forces Aleksandr Yakushin says the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan is ready to be modernised should it be required to monitor potential missile threats. The station is the Russian alternative proposal to U.

Experts from Russia, the U.S. and Azerbaijan will discuss the option next Tuesday. The Russian radar specialists will be try to impress upon their American colleagues that Gabala’s capabilities are enough to monitor any possible missile threat from Iran.

Earlier this year, the U.S. announced that it was going to construct radar and missile bases in the Czech Republic and Poland. The stated aim was to defend Europe from a potential threat from what have been termed ‘rogue states’, such as Iran and North Korea.

Russia reacted angrily to the plans for a missile shield so near its borders, saying this would upset the nuclear balance and spark a new arms race. Vladimir Putin's offer to allow use of Gabala was seen as a move to diffuse the tension.

We are not trying to make Gabala a part of the ABM shield. We are hoping that it will stop the Americans from building its missile defence bases immediately, whilst we all monitor and assess the threat in that region.

Maj. Gen. Aleksandr Yakushin
Russian Space Forces
Deputy Chief of Staff

However, the offer does not completely provide a solution. The 30-year-old installation is a fixed-area radar, which was not built specifically to counter threats from Iran. Moreover, it does not have a nearby missile base where nuclear interceptors could be launched from.

The Russian offer is not intended as a straight replacement for the ABM shield in Eastern Europe, but rather a way to assess the real threat poised by Iran.

However, Washington views the threat from Iran as imminent and has already ploughed tens of billions of dollars into the missile defence system.