The first meeting of Azerbaijan-Russia joint commission on the closure of Gabala radar station will be held in February, spokesman for Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry Elman Abdullayev told journalists Wednesday.
Deputy Foreign Minister Khalaf Khalafov will co-chair the commission from the Azerbaijani side. The meeting will focus on technical issues related to the closure of Gabala radar station.
The Russian government said earlier in December 2012 that it would shut down operations at a major radar station in Gabala, that can detect missile launchings throughout the Middle East, after failing to reach an agreement on a new lease with the Azeri government.
The radar station was built in 1985 when Russia and Azerbaijan were still part of the Soviet Union. For the past decade, Russia has paid Azerbaijan in rent for the facility, along with other operational charges. With the lease set to expire, the two countries had been in protracted negotiations over new terms.
Gabala Radar Station was a Daryal-type (NATO Pechora) bistatic phased-array early warning radar, built by the Soviet Union in the Gabala region of Azerbaijan in 1985. It was operated by the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces. The radar station had a range of up to 6,000 kilometres (3,728 mi), and was designed to detect missile launches as far as the Indian Ocean. The radar's surveillance covered Iran, Turkey, India, Iraq and the entire Middle East. It could detect the launch of missiles and track the whole trajectory to enable a ballistic missile defense system to intercept an offensive strike. The Radar Station hosted about 1,000 Russian servicemen with about 500 Azerbaijanis.