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18 Sep, 2007 01:58

U.S. military touring Russian radar outpost

A group of military experts from Russia, the U.S. and Azerbaijan, are set to visit the Azeri Gabala Radar Station to study the possibility of using it as part of a joint anti-missile initiative. The site is part of the Russian early missile warning system

This possibility was voiced by Russian President Vladimir Putin, as an alternative for U.S. plans of deploying elements of its anti-missile shield in Eastern Europe. Russia sees these plans as a threat to its security and hopes joint usage of the Azeri radar station will decrease tensions.

Tuesday’s tour to Azerbaijan is a fact-finding mission, with no agreements to be announced afterwards. The Russian side hopes to convince the Pentagon experts that Gabala’s capabilities are enough to monitor possible threats from Iran, since the U.S. says that ‘rogue states’ like Iran and North Korea, are the ones their ABM system is aimed against.

The Gabala station is a phase-array early warning radar, constructed by the Soviet Union in the late 1970s and early 1980s. With an effective range of 6,000 km, it can detect and track missile launches in India, Turkey, Iran, Iraq and several other countries. It actually is an in-use military facility manned by Russian personnel.

Russia leases the radar site from the Azeri government.

When security is based on a balance, the rate of security is higher. The reaction of Moscow in this respect will bring more balance to it.

Aleksey Ignatiyev,  ExpertKaliningrad Regional
Development Agency

Earlier this summer, Russia warned that as a response to the stationing of a U.S. missile defence system in Europe, Russia might deploy medium-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region.

Situated on the Baltic coast, the region is Russia's westernmost territory, bordering the former Soviet republic of Lithuania and Poland, which was a member of the former Warsaw Pact. Now the Kaliningrad region’s neighbours are members of NATO.

The region became a part of the Soviet Union after the Second World War. Now, it is an enclave cut off from the rest of Russia.