Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 132

While Russian president Boris Yeltsin and his Azeri counterpart, Haidar Aliev, were reported to have agreed "in principle" on July 3 to sign an accord on the future use of the Soviet long-range phased-array radar system at Gabala in Azerbaijan, Aliev and Russian defense minister Igor Sergeev failed to finalize the accord when they met the following day. Further negotiations are to take place next week in Baku.

Some 400 Russian Air Defense troops reportedly man the site — the only Russian military forces in Azerbaijan — and their status and that of the station will apparently remain in limbo. While some media reports have indicated that the Azeris want the station dismantled, Aliev on July 4 seemed agreeable to continued Russian use of the facility, observing that the station is being used "for defensive purposes." The two sides seem to be farthest apart on the issue of the ownership of the station and all its equipment. Sergeev indicated that he wants to postpone consideration of such questions until later. He also claimed that the station is protecting the CIS as well as Russia, and that Russia should therefore be allowed to use it "on a non-compensatory basis," paying only the operating expenses. Sergeev said that the station must remain in operation "until the end of its service life" when "an additional decision on its future can be adopted." As the station was one of the Soviet Union’s most modern and sophisticated early-warning facilities, it would not become obsolete for decades. (Russian media, July 3, 4, 7)

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