Artsakh blockade enters fourth week

Empty refrigerators in Stepanakert (Photo: Marut Vanyan/Twitter)

Artsakh entered the new year under blockade, as Azerbaijan has kept the Lachin Corridor closed for over three weeks.

The Lachin Corridor, the sole route connecting Artsakh with Armenia and the rest of the world, has been closed since December 12. The corridor, called the “road of life” by locals, is typically used to transport 400 tons of food and medicine to Artaskh from Armenia every day, according to Artsakh authorities. Artsakh now faces acute shortages of basic necessities. 

Grocery stores have almost entirely run out of sugar, salt, wheat, vegetables and fruit as of December 28, according to Artsakh media. Stores are facing shortages of rice, oil, eggs, cheese and flour. 

Grocery stores run out of wine ahead of the new year (Photo: Marut Vanyan/Twitter)

“The humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh is worsening day by day,” the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia said in a January 3 statement. “120,000 people became de facto prisoners.”

The Lachin Corridor was shut down by a group of government-sponsored Azerbaijani protesters posing as environmental activists. They have pitched tents along the Stepanakert-Goris highway to demand that the Russian peacekeeping force allow them to inspect what they call “illegal mining” in Artsakh.

Artsakh authorities have said that the mining industry operates “in line with the highest international standards.” Yet on December 28, the government of Artsakh announced that it would temporarily suspend its mining operations. “Taking into consideration the unhealthy environment created by the ‘eco-activists’” and “their attempt to mislead the international community,” the local authorities decided to close the mines until an international inspection is conducted.  

The government of Azerbaijan has denied that the protests are preventing travel along the Lachin corridor or precipitating a humanitarian crisis. The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a January 4 statement that vehicles belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross “pass through the road without hindrance.” 

Only one shipment of humanitarian aid along the Lachin Corridor has been confirmed. The ICRC delivered 10 tons of humanitarian cargo to Artsakh from Armenia on December 25. Artsakh authorities said that the aid would suffice for 10 days. Meanwhile, about a dozen patients, accompanied by the ICRC or by Russian peacekeepers, have been transferred from Artsakh to Armenia for treatment since the start of the blockade.

Families have also been separated by the road closure. About 1,000 people have been stranded along the Lachin Corridor and prevented from returning home to Artsakh since December 12. 

According to the ceasefire agreement ending the 2020 Artsakh War, Azerbaijan “guarantees traffic safety along the Lachin Corridor of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions.” Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the Lachin Corridor to ensure its security under the agreement.

The Russian peacekeeping mission has faced criticism for failing to reopen the corridor or remove the Azerbaijani protesters. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan called the peacekeeping force a “silent witness to the depopulation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is becoming more and more visible.” 

“If Russia is unable to ensure stability and security in Nagorno-Karabakh for objective or subjective reasons, I think it should organize a discussion in the UN Security Council and endow the Russian peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh with a UN Security Council mandate or raise the issue of sending additional multinational peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh,” Pashinyan said during a cabinet meeting on December 29. 

The Russian peacekeeping mission has repeatedly said that it is conducting negotiations with representatives of Armenia and Azerbaijan to reopen the corridor. No details of these negotiations have been released.

United Nations Security Council session discussing the Lachin corridor closure (United Nations, December 20)

Armenian media also blamed Russia for the failure of the UN Security Council (UNSC) to adopt a resolution regarding the closure of the Lachin Corridor. 

France and the United States called on Azerbaijan to reopen the corridor during a UNSC session convened on December 20 at the request of the government of Armenia. 

Mher Margaryan, Armenian representative to the United Nations, addresses the UN Security Council (United Nations, December 20)

Armenian and Azerbaijani media outlets reported conflicting accounts of the subsequent negotiations on a statement. Armenian media said that the draft resolution failed after Russia introduced amendments at the last minute, “knowing very well that they would not be accepted by other members.”

Azerbaijani media said that France tried to “push through its pro-Armenian statement.” Yet, in the 10 days after the December 20 session, France abandoned the statement after it was opposed by Great Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Russia and Albania. 

Today, France lost another battle to Azerbaijan in UN Security Council in a failed attempt to push biased pro-Armenian UNSC statement on Lachin which triggered harsh reaction from other UNSC members,” Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Belgium tweeted on December 30. “Words of gratitude go to Albania, Russia, UAE & UK! A great job of AZ diplomats!”

Russia denied that it was responsible for the UNSC’s failure to adopt a statement. Dmitry Polyanskiy, the first deputy Russian ambassador to the United Nations, said that France rejected the majority of Russian proposals.

Polyanskiy said that Russia “from the very beginning was working constructively” on drafting a statement, a process that it said was coordinated by France at Armenia’s request. 

“We firmly believe that the Council’s reaction should help to find a compromise and resume the peace process, without labeling any of the parties,” Polyanskiy wrote on Telegram. “Westerners were more concerned about adopting any Security Council product rather than resolving the conflict situation.” 

The Armenian Foreign Ministry expressed gratitude for the “publicly expressed and clear calls by the vast majority of the Security Council members to end the blockade of the corridor by Azerbaijan” in a January 3 statement. The Foreign Ministry particularly welcomed the efforts by France to adopt a statement about the corridor closure.

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian

Lillian Avedian is a staff writer for the Armenian Weekly. Her writing has also been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Hetq and the Daily Californian. She is pursuing master’s degrees in journalism and Near Eastern Studies at New York University. A human rights journalist and feminist poet, Lillian's first poetry collection Journey to Tatev was released with Girls on Key Press in spring of 2021.
Lillian Avedian

@LillianAvedian

Graduate student @GloJo_NYU and @nyukevo. Staff writer @armenianweekly.
It's been over six weeks since #Azerbaijan closed the #LachinCorridor and blockaded #Artsakh. Gas and electricity s… https://t.co/vibVON7bSU - 5 days ago
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21 Comments

  1. All Europe is supplied oil and gas from AZERBAIJAN ,how it is possible for someone to support the Armenians in Artsakh

    • I agree with you Charoutioun, Armenians have lost their mind, the West can’t help themselves and Armenians are waiting help from the West, all they do is full of BS, not even US can open that coridor, only Russia can open that coridor.

  2. your moral compass is completely out of whack and outdated Charoutioun. it was probably more than about oil and gas. it was about legality and rationality. Russia supplied 45 percent of EU’s oil and gas. it did stop them from supporting Ukraine.

  3. Let’s call things by their name. it is not “protesters” who have blockaded Artsakh and its 120,000 Armenian inhabitants. These are terrorist agents of the Azeri government who are starving babies, denying medicine to the elderly.
    This is in fact a genocide in the making. The Azeris want eliminate, wipe out and destroy any and all Armenians and not only in Artsakh. Artsakh is only the beginning. Shame on us if we if we are fooled into complacency by their deception.

    • Exactly, and international power play, about the EU supporting Ukraine,when Russia had been the biggest supplier of oil and gas to the bloc. As for only Russia can open the corridor notion, it remains to be seen what happens. Either way Russia reputation and influence is under strain everywhere.

  4. I think oil and gas, which the Azeri president has offered at affordable prices (his words months ago to Europe after Russian gas was cut off), only one consideration. The other is much deeper and older. In August 1920, U.S. army Colonel Alexander Ulio (who would later become a brigadier general), revealed that Azerbaijan was created by Enver Pasha and the British, on Armenian territory, for the sake of the oil. Armenia or anyone who was a legitimate legal representing body for over 1,000 years has never entered into a legally binding treaty to surrender any of its legal territory to anyone. This said, although Azerbaijan, as a government is internationally recognized by other governments, under international law, they are occupiers of the territory they claim as theirs. This also means that under international law, the property and minerals found on said territory is under protection feom exploitation, and those who receive stolen property from said territory, are also guilty of a crime, subject to compensate the rightful owners. This means every drop of oil or natural gas being sold by Azerbaijan, belongs to Armenia and those on the receiving end are most likely to oppose anything in favor of Armenia and for their own survival, even if that means violating the UN Genocide Convention, which a dozen countries have done with their weapon supplies to Azerbaijan after being warned by the OSCE in 1992, by an arms embargo that until today, as well as Genocide Watch in October of 2020, that some countries continued their arms supplies.

  5. I don’t understand why Armenians are so naive thinking West will help them? History did not teach them anything. France easily gave Kilikia to Turkey. During genocide no any European country helped Armenia. USA ,Germany and England were watching until end.
    Eastern Armenia and Georgia survived from Persia and Turkey only thanks to Russian Kingdom in 18th century.

    • YOU ARE THE ONLY PERSON ON THIS WEBSITE WITH A BRAIN AND THINKING REALITY MARI!!! WHY ARMENIA AND ARMENIANS THINK THE WORLD CARES????? NOBODY CARES!!! WHOEVER HAS POWER AND MILITARY CONTROLS THE CONVERSATION!!!! PERIOD. ARMENIANS STILL DUMB AND STILL VICTIMS OVER AND OVER AND OVER AGAIN. 100 YEARS AGO KHRIMYAN HAYRIK SAY GUNS GUNS GUNS. 100 YEARS LATER, ARMENIANS STILL HOPING PRAYING AND WAITING FOR WORLD TO HELP. SAD! SAD! SAD!!!

  6. Nato must help democratic western life style adopted armenia cause Armenia is last bastion of European Culture in the region Armenia is not Lebanon or Gulf arab,Armenia is represent modern civilzation democracy human rights Western world must protect Armenia.

  7. I hope this proves how the Russians will sell the Armenians over and over again. During the czarist Russia, Russian sold the Armenian to the Ottomans. During the soviet reign, multiple soviet leaders sold the Armenians to the Turkish Republic and now Mr. Putin is selling the Armenians to Aliyev-Erdogan alliance. Don’t expect much from the West either. Most invalid leaders in the West can not even tie their own shoes.

  8. lets be clear: FOR 30 YEARS ARMENIA WAS THE GUARANTOR OF THE SAFETY OF ARTSAKH.. UNTIL THAT LOSER PASHINYAN GOT “ELECTED” THE USELESS LOSER OF ALL ARMENIANS LOST THE WAR INCLUDING ANCIENT ARMENIAN LANDS AND ABOUT 4500 YOUNG DEAD ARMENIANS TO BOOT, THAT IS WHAT THAT POS BRINGS. AND NOT A PEEP FROM HIM IF ANYONE NOTICED ON THE CURRENT CRISIS BECAUSE HE CAN CARE LESS.. STOP ASKING THE “INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY”, INSTEAD DEMAND BETTER SMARTER UNITY FROM YOUR FELLOW ARMENIAN.. LOOK IN THE MIRROR.

  9. Unity is waste of time while armenians suffer in middle east arab states armos in western state wont help armenia repatriation very hard and takes alot of time l think armenia must change political vision east to totally west lf we became anti lran l believe lsrael will choose us ally in the region instead azeris so this will let us gain take more US help

    • Iran has been an ancient neighbouring and generally fraternal people to Armenia. To turn on Iran in order to curry favour with Israel and by extention the USA in the hope that Israel will give up on Azerbaijan, Turkey and support recognition of the genocide, assist Armenia in various ways. Seems to be hiding to nothing. If Israel had wanted to be Armenia friend it would have taken that choice years ago. I think what Armenia did in 301 isn’t forgiven or forgotten and probably factors in their opinions… Recent events in Syria, Armenia and the Ukraine all show the notion of a Judo-Christian civilisational struggle against Islam in some kind of clash of civilisations rapture that was popular in some circles (I used to have sympathy for the notion) in the 1990’s and 2000’s is a load of nonsense!

      Also Russias woes in Ukraine do seem to have quietened the notion popular among many Armenians in 2020 that Russia let Armenia loose as a punishment for distancing, the harsh truth is that Armenia had regaled in past glories too much (its easy done) and had been technologically outmatched by Azerbaijan

    • Terrorist Turkey and Soviet-invented artificial Azerbaijan can have all the friends they want. But if those friends of theirs are helping them militarily knowing full well their military help will be used to target and attack Armenians they should be considered our enemies and dealt with accordingly.

      Iran is one of the most important and reliable neighbors to Armenia in the region. We share thousands of years of history with the Iranians. Turkey and Azerbaijan are the common enemies of Armenia and Iran. Rest-assured what these two Turkish and pseudo-Turkish Azerbaijani terrorist states are doing in Armenia’s backyard these days, would not think twice doing in the Iranian Northwest if and when they get the chance to do so. Despite our religious differences, which should never be an issue, we are forever tied to Iran, geographically in the least, that acts as an outlet to the outside world for Armenia and I believe the reverse is also true because just like Armenia is surrounded by enemies so is Iran these days, more in the form isolation than border closings, and they critically rely on Armenia’s border with Iran. So much so that they won’t hesitate to defend our common border military against any breach by our common enemies. For Iran, Armenia acts like a security wall keeping our common Turkish and pseudo-Turkish enemies apart.

      Israel can never be Armenia’s ally so long as it supports our Azerbaijani enemy militarily and fails to acknowledge and recognize the Armenian Genocide. Israel’s foreign policy in the region is anti-Iranian while sacrificing Armenia in the process. This shows the security of Armenia and the lives of the Armenians are unimportant for Israel’s ultimate goal which is the destruction of the Iranian nuclear facilities. Azerbaijan is the closest base of military operation for Israel against Iran. For this reason Israel is selfishly supplying state-of-the-art weapons to Azerbaijan, which is used against none other than Armenia, in order to establish itself in Azerbaijan militarily for its Iran attack. Israel preaches to the world against genocide, but by such selfish and even criminal actions, Israel is helping our enemy to commit genocide! Israeli hypocrisy at its best!

      The United States and Europe will never be fully committed to Armenia as long as terrorist Turkey is their NATO ally. If they did they would never have allowed Turkey, and in fact punished Turkey, for secretly supplying NATO weapons to non-NATO member Azerbaijan, a criminal collaborator of Turkey, and participating directly in an illegal war against Armenia on Azerbaijan’s behalf. The best they have done so far is to give a few millions in financial assistance, a drop in the bucket, and a lot of lip service!

    • Unity is the ONLY answer. One Armenia, Artsakh and diaspora all working as ONE! Instead look at Armenia with a dwindling population of about 3 million that has 17 different political factions. How ridiculous. The enemy doesn’t have to divide and conquer. We Armenians do it for them. Also alienating Iran, your only friendly next door neighbor would be disastrous, Your assuming Israel would help Armenia? Jews were the CUP. They were the Young Turks. They murdered Armenians hiding behind Turkish clothing. They are just sorry they didn’t finish the job.

  10. Gagik, unfortunately nobody listens or reads what we think.The same mistakes again as you said. I wish we will have one day somebody Patriot premier as Karen Demirchian who wanted the best for Armenia!

  11. Some people easily talk about destiny of Artsakh or Armenia not knowing a few facts that known to Armenians who lived in Armenia at least 10 and more years:
    1. Number of Armenians in Russia is a few times more than in Armenia
    2. Armenians in Russia are well accepted and have good jobs even some of them are millionaires
    3. Armenians have to learn to help each other like Jews, Georgians, Kirgyz, Uzbek and etc. who help coming people from their countries with any issue.
    All Armenian presidents since 90-s we’re failure, not patriots. They all were corrupted. Nobody of them sent and would send their children to war!

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