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US 'cautious' on locating bases outside NATO
News.Az interviews Pavel Podvig, researcher at Stanford University's Centre of International Security and Cooperation.
Do you think the USA is the most likely foreign state to have a military presence in Azerbaijan, now that the Military Doctrine has created the legal basis for this?
I think this is an issue for Azerbaijan's domestic policy. As I understand it, the United States is cautious about placing its bases outside NATO, so I do not think they will insist on such cooperation with Azerbaijan.
Russian soldiers have been present at the Gabala radar station in Azerbaijan for several years, while Moscow seems interested in extending lease of the station. Could Gabala's status be transformed from a research station to a full Russian military base?
Again this is a question for Azerbaijan. Russia will probably not object to preserving the establishment, but there will be no need for the Gabala radar station after the second radar at Armavir has been commissioned. You can see a picture of the site at http://russianforces.org/blog/2009/02/two_radars_at_armavir.shtml.
Do you think the Americans may finally review the Russian proposal about the joint use of the Gabala radar station as they resolve their differences on missile defence?
I don't think there has ever been a rejection. It's just that in 2007 they failed to agree on the form of cooperation. The issue is still complex but I would not rule out possible coordination. In this sense it seems important to keep open the option of using the radar station in Gabala. If we manage to implement this project, it will become a significant contribution to the settlement of differences over missile defence.
There is a view that the presence of US soldiers in Azerbaijan (either at the radar station in Gabala or at a newly created military base) may alarm Iran and even increase the risk of a terror threat against Baku. Is this justified?
I find it difficult to judge. I think the work in Gabala, for example, as part of the US-Russian project will not necessarily target Iran. But certainly, Iran will take it as an unfriendly step.
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