“Humanitarian terrorism” in Artsakh, population deprived of gas supply again

A man stands knee-deep in snow in Stepanakert (NKR InfoCenter, March 20)

Artsakh authorities claim that Azerbaijan has disrupted the supply of natural gas from Armenia for the second time in two weeks, leaving the people of Artsakh without heating in subzero temperatures.

The pipeline was first damaged on March 8, depriving nearly 120,000 residents of heating and hot water and forcing schools and medical centers to close. The Russian peacekeeping mission in Artsakh mediated an agreement to allow sapper groups of the Artsakh State Emergency Service to restore the pipeline. However, the Azerbaijani side prohibited access to the damaged section of the pipeline, which runs through Azerbaijani-controlled territory near Shushi. 

Artsakh receives its energy supply from Armenia through a single natural gas pipeline that runs parallel to the Lachin corridor. Parts of the pipeline now traverse territories controlled by Azerbaijan following the cession of land after the 2020 Artsakh War. 

On March 19, Artsakh authorities announced that restoration work on the pipeline had commenced. Volunteers from Yerevan also delivered canisters of gas to Stepanakert in the meantime. 

However, on the evening of March 21, the natural gas supply was once again interrupted, which leaders of the republic blamed on Azerbaijani intervention. 

“We have sufficient grounds to assume that during repairs of the gas pipeline that was damaged on March 8, the Azerbaijani side installed a valve that stopped the gas supply a few hours ago,” the NKR InfoCenter said in a statement on Monday. “Adverse weather conditions serve Azerbaijan’s insidious purpose of creating additional humanitarian problems for our population, which is a crime.”

The Russian peacekeeping force was immediately informed of the damage to the gas pipeline, according to the NKR InfoCenter. The Russian peacekeeping contingent is holding talks with the Azerbaijani side regarding restoration of the pipeline, Lusine Avanesyan, the press secretary of the president of Artsakh, told reporters on Tuesday. 

The interruption to the gas supply has forced residents to rely on electricity for heating. The NKR InfoCenter urged residents to use electricity “as economically as possible, to avoid power outages.” 

While residents have been left without heating, Artsakh has been submerged in subzero temperatures and unusually heavy snowfall. Parts of Artsakh have been blanketed in up to three feet of snow, resulting in road closures.  

Heavy snow has forced road closures across Artsakh (NKR InfoCenter, March 21)

Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has accused Azerbaijan of committing “humanitarian terrorism.” 

“This heinous act is another demonstration of hatred and nationalism,” the Artsakh Foreign Ministry wrote in a statement. “Azerbaijan’s misanthropic steps cannot affect the will and determination of the people of Artsakh. We will continue to live and create in our historical homeland, develop and strengthen our independent statehood.” 

The MoFA of Armenia also condemned the Azerbaijani leadership and its “outrageous policy of systemic violence against the Armenians of Artsakh.” It accused Azerbaijan of also preventing the entry of international humanitarian organizations into Artsakh, creating a “humanitarian crisis.”

“The current situation emphasizes the urgency of clear response of the international community towards preventing the humanitarian crisis, as well as the immediate and unimpeded involvement of international humanitarian organizations in Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh),” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Two days prior, the MoFA of Armenia had also condemned Baku for inviting representatives from the United Nations office in Azerbaijan to an event in Shushi. 

Azerbaijani authorities did not respond to the accusations that it had deliberately interrupted the natural gas supply to Artsakh until this week. 

Spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry Leyla Abdullayeva dismissed the “baseless allegations” from the MoFA of Armenia on March 23. She accused the Armenian Foreign Ministry of “interfering in the internal affairs of Azerbaijan” regarding the “participation of international organizations in the event held in Azerbaijan a few days ago, and now on another topic.” She did not explicitly mention the issue of the gas supply.

“We recommend that instead of making unfounded and illegal accusations, Armenia should ensure the fulfillment of its obligations, including the withdrawal of the remnants of its armed forces from the region, and thus contribute to regional peace and security,” Abdullayeva told reporters on Wednesday.  

The chief of the general staff of the Azerbaijani Army Karim Valiyev met with the deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian ground forces on Tuesday. The sides discussed the “process of withdrawal of illegal Armenian armed groups from the territory of Azerbaijan,” according to a statement from the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan. 

The European Union expressed its concern regarding “reports of a renewed disruption of the gas supply to Stepanakert” on Wednesday. Spokesperson for external affairs Peter Stano said that the EU had “encouraged Azerbaijan’s active engagement” following the first disruption on March 8, leading to repair works and the resumption of the gas supply. 

There is an urgent need to ensure the immediate resumption of the gas supply to the affected local population, in particular in the context of the dire weather conditions, and the EU calls on the authorities in control to allow this to happen,” Stano said in a statement. 

The issues with gas supply are unfolding against the backdrop of heightened tensions along the Artsakh border. Azerbaijan’s military fired on various civilian communities of Artsakh early in March. In February, videos spread on social media depicting  Azerbaijani forces ordering Armenian civilians to evacuate border villages in Artsakh by loudspeaker. 

Earlier this month, Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry submitted a five-point proposal for peace talks with Armenia. The five points include include mutual recognition of each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual affirmation of the absence of territorial claims to each other and a legally binding obligation not to make such claims in the future, refraining from threatening each other’s security, delimitation and demarcation of the border and unblocking of communication and transport links. 

While Armenia’s Foreign Ministry accepted the five points, officials say the proposal does not address the status of Artsakh and the rights and security of its Armenian residents. Armenia’s Foreign Ministry announced that it had applied to the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs to “organize negotiations on the signing of a peace agreement” between the two countries “on the basis of the UN Charter, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Helsinki Final Act.” 

On March 23, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said that the Russian invasion of Ukraine has “sharply complicated the work of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs up to the level of joint discussions.”

Based on very specific, certain signals and messages that I have been receiving from the co-chair countries and many other countries, I want to reaffirm that the international community continues to see the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in the context of the Minsk Group co-chairmanship,” he said during a parliamentary question-and-answer session.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is the assistant editor of the Armenian Weekly. She reports on international women's rights, South Caucasus politics, and diasporic identity. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Democracy in Exile, and Girls on Key Press. She holds master's degrees in journalism and Near Eastern studies from New York University.


  1. How much of this pipeline is located outside of Russian control and under Azeri control? What would it take to build a bypass for that portion of the pipeline that falls under Azeri control? How is Shushi currently being heated, electrified, hydrated and fed? What will it take to also run electrical lines through the current 5km-wide Lachin corridor? Assuming the necessary capital exists or can be quickly raised, do the Armenians of Armenia/Artsakh have the technical capability of carrying out any necessary (hardened) infrastructure work? Will the Russians allow for this work to be carried out? Raising awareness is fine but if it is all that is done, it amounts to an unaffordable indulgence. Time to go to work, work and work.

    • While I understand your analysis and what is required to remedy this dire situation, I think the real question should be why is it that such an important piece of pipeline, the lifeline of the Artsakh population, has found itself under the enemy control? And I think the answer is that the despicable enemy, after terrorizing the defenseless Artsakh population since September of 2020 with deadly and destructive help from six terrorist states who to this day have gone unpunished, has become emboldened and because of the incompetent and dysfunctional and defeatist government that is ruling Armenia today this filthy enemy does what it pleases with impunity.

      While this impotent and treasonous Armenian government instead of organizing defensive forces and strengthening the army to fight off the enemy, is busy fighting with opposition forces in the capital to maintain its illegitimate power which they seized by a staged and fake so-called “popular revolution” AND while their incompetent ministers and officials are busy making “peace” deals with Turkish devils and terrorists in Ankara, the enemy will continue to cause more trouble to maximize its illegitimate gains with the aim of creating chaos and causing panic among the peaceful Armenian population in border regions to force them out of their homes with ultimate goal of depopulating and ethnically-cleansing the region from the indigenous Armenians as they had done in the past and continue to do so. They realize this unpatriotic Armenian government won’t lift a finger to do anything and therefore they continue to be belligerent and engage in psychological warfare to demoralize the Armenian population in order to break their will and to make them feel insecure under constant enemy threats. To make life unbearable under such miserable conditions in hopes of forcing the terrorized Armenian population abandon their homes and seek refuge elsewhere. This is their terrorist strategy and evil tactic to chip away strategic parts of our homeland piece by piece.

      This has to stop but it won’t unless this treasonous Armenian government is forced out and replaced by a patriotic one that not so long ago handed this coward enemy a devastating and humiliating defeat despite its massive wealth and resources. The enemy is acting the way it does, in absence of any action shown by this defeatist government, because they know what a united Armenian population is capable of doing to them. They had already felt that on their skins in 1994 with the liberation of enemy-occupied Armenian territories. As they say, actions speak louder than words and the time for action is now. The enemy has not changed. It is the same coward opportunist enemy as it was thirty years ago. What has changed is that we have inexperienced and unpatriotic leaders completely detached from reality who should have never been given the opportunity to run a country and one that has been in a state of war for over a quarter century. Aliyev is a well-known coward who can’t do anything without terrorist Turkey. Today, while this fake patriot and thief Aliyev puts on his artificial terrorist state’s fake uniform and acts like a clown waving his finger at us like a dog waving its tail, he is the same coward who was MIA, missing in action, at his ripe military age during the 1990s Artsakh Liberation War spending his time in Russian and Turkish casinos while his countrymen were being sent back to Baku in body bags!

  2. You cannot solve issues with the enemy unless the enemy knows there are consequences for what they do. Unfortunately Armenia never accepted Artsakh as an independent republic. Unlike Russia that created newly formed DNR and LNR that never even existed previously. Additionally Armenia’s current political crew seems to be more aligned with World Economic Forum interests but not really the Armenian interests. Nothing good will come of it. I am worried about the Armenians as the ethnic group living on its land. My forecast is gloomy.

    • You are right in the sense that Armenia should have done things that it did not do but I think the problems we are facing today did not start recently. They started with our heroic liberation of Artsakh and victory in the war imposed on us back in 1994. We defeated the enemy, despite its massive wealth and resources, but we failed to bring the war to its natural and intended conclusion. We brought the enemy to its knees. We destroyed and humiliated the enemy in the battlefield but failed to force the enemy into capitulation. We failed to dictate our will to the enemy to give up on its illegitimate and illegal hold on occupied Armenian territories by forcing them into signing a legally-binding treaty and integrate liberated territories with Armenia right away.

      The enemy was completely wiped out and was at its weakest. It was at our mercy. What we did instead was to agree to a ceasefire which gave the devastated and demoralized enemy room to breathe and the opportunity to get back on its feet to fight another day. The more energy sources they discovered and the more multi-billion dollar foreign oil companies invested in the Caspian oil and gas with massive revenues the more uncompromising and emboldened the enemy became. By delaying and not doing what we were supposed to do in the first place and by believing and trusting foreign superpowers to sort things out for us we fell into their trap. Instead of taking our destiny into our own hands, strengthening and modernizing the army, our corrupt leaders subservient to foreign powers engaged in nepotism and theft. Because of their interest and dependency on Caspian energy resources these double-talking deceitful foreign powers made promises they never kept. They ruled out use of force and constantly stated that this conflict can only be solved by negotiations while the enemy continued to invest in deadly weapons and planned attacks led by terrorist NATO member Turkey.

      Despite their assurances when the enemy attacked these two-faced foreign “peace” makers did absolutely nothing. They stood aside and watched their own terrorist Turkish NATO member directly and militarily involve itself in the war using NATO weapons while our so-called Russian “ally” turned a blind eye on the whole thing sacrificing Armenians and Armenian territories in return for resolving their Syrian problems with Turkish terrorists. When will we learn NOT to trust anyone but ourselves!.

  3. Ararat, I am not going to add anything on what you have written. I am with you 100%. We forgot unfortunately, the written message from kristapor Mikaelian that European powers are prostitute that they can sell their mothers for business and opportunities that they can get when they can cold heartedly let people be compromised in their thousands and millions as long as they can make a buck. We also forgot that we can change conditions and situations and make things work for us. We also forgot Shahan Natali’s message, that creating conditions needs people, leaders who can stand up and make decisions and and act on them. The only way we are going to unite entire Diaspora and make a powerful PUNCH is by taking action. That is how we use to be and it seems to me that we lost touch with serious realities. We can change the conditions and situations to our advantage when we act decisively and with courage. Otherwise we allow our enemies to walk all over our nation and we sit on our back and do NOTHING.

  4. These humanitarian terrorisms will continue as long as the Aliyev KGB MAFIA clan is in power, as it has been since 1960s, and as long as the artificial Azerbaijan republic, a gas station disguised as a country and invented only 104 years in 1918 on occupied ancient Armenian territories, still continues to exist. Peace will come to the region when artificial Azerbaijan republic is no more. In our worst day we can take care of this turco-mongol tatar Azerbaijani terrorist tribe on our own in their best day. We have already proven that in 1994. For 30 years and with all their resources, petrodollar revenues in hundreds of billions of dollars, they could not even put a dent on us. Today, these cowards are emboldened because of our own incompetent and dysfunctional treasonous government and because they have NATO member genocidal Turkish terrorists on their side and doing the fighting for them, as they did in 2020, but this won’t last forever.

    Sooner or later, Russia will come to its senses and punish them for all their double-talk and anti-Russian activities in the region and anti-Russian declarations, along with their criminal Turkish step-cousins, in favor of Ukraine. We need to strengthen our army and be prepared to strike at them at the right time and put an end to this artificial terrorist cesspool. We need to wipe out this artificial state carved out of our occupied homeland with the fake name stolen from the Persians. Remember, this fake name Azerbaijan is the transformation of the name of the ancient Persian territory of Atropatane which is located inside today’s Iran to the south of the Araxis River. Any reference to Azerbaijan is a reference to Iranian territory inside today’s Iran. There has never been an entity, a nation, or a state with this name to the north of the Araxis River in today’s South Caucasus. It was artificially invented as a “little Turkey” in 1918, after the defeat of the Ottoman Empire in WWI, to pursue fascist pan-Turkic agenda and as a base for Soviet expansion into Persia and the Middle East!

  5. This is what happens when a nation neither has national guards (militias) nor weapons to protect their homeland from outside enemies and inside. On the 6th of April, the Orchestrator of March 2 2008 riots and his ‘Tuxov Tetoum Keloukhov’ hooligans, going to hand over Artsakh to the Azeries. Evidently, vendetta amongst, the Armenians in Armenia, is a priority and more important than that of homeland security. Amot.

    • They do have militias but they are not there to defend the borders. They are there instead to protect that “Դուխով Դդում Գլուխով” as you put it. Before, wherever he showed up, so did thousands to greet him. But now, there is no one to greet him, and he needs hundred militias surrounding him to go from one government building to the next. Very sad!

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