Azerbaijan closes Berdzor Corridor to humanitarian aid

Azerbaijan military checkpoint (Gegham Stepanyan, Twitter)

Artsakh officials are warning that supplies of basic goods are dwindling after Azerbaijan closed the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor to humanitarian shipments on June 15. 

“The situation is turning disastrous day by day, and it is incomprehensible why the world tolerates this,” Artsakh State Minister Gurgen Nersisyan said on June 20.

Since Azerbaijan placed Artsakh under blockade in December 2022, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and Russian peacekeeping forces have delivered humanitarian cargo, including food and medicine, from Armenia to Artsakh. However, the ICRC and Russian peacekeepers have been prevented from traveling along the Berdzor Corridor, the sole route connecting Artsakh with Armenia and the rest of the world, by Azerbaijani border guards since June 15. The ICRC has also been barred from transporting Artsakh residents in need of medical assistance to hospitals or medical centers in Armenia. 

“These actions once again substantiate our fear that Azerbaijan is conducting a policy of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a cabinet meeting on June 15. 

Azerbaijani protesters posing as environmental activists launched a blockade of the Berdzor Corridor on December 12, 2022. They ended the protest after Azerbaijani forces set up a military checkpoint at the entrance to the corridor from Armenia on April 23. Movement along the corridor is now completely controlled by Azerbaijani border guards. The checkpoint violates the trilateral ceasefire agreement ending the 2020 Artsakh War, according to which Russian peacekeepers were deployed to the corridor and Azerbaijan “guarantees traffic safety along the Lachin Corridor of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions.” 

Agriculture Minister Georgi Hayriyan said the region is already facing a shortage of sugar and cooking oil, yet has sufficient reserves of flour and other basic necessities. 

“Although we have been under blockade since December 12, 2022, during that time, with very few resources, we have been able to somewhat improve our food security level. Because of this, we now have a greater degree of resilience. There is no need to panic,” Hayriyan said during a June 21 cabinet meeting. 

Nersisyan announced that local authorities have switched to austerity mode to preserve the remaining supply of food, medicine and fuel. He said that Artsakh residents who received a government-issued coupon to procure fuel will no longer be able to do so. 

“Our farms can mitigate problems to a certain extent and provide some self-sufficiency,” Nersisyan said during a Facebook livestream on June 16.

Artsakh State Minister Gurgen Nersisyan convenes a government meeting (NKR InfoCenter)

Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova has called on Azerbaijan to reopen the Berdzor Corridor.

“We call on Baku to take steps to completely unblock the corridor for humanitarian purposes and not to hold Karabakh’s population hostage to political disagreements with Yerevan,” Zakharova said during a June 21 press briefing. 

Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said that it was taking “relevant measures…in order to investigate the reasons for this provocation, as well as to ensure the security of the border checkpoint and the passage through it after the attack.” It said it was unacceptable to call these measures a “blockade.” 

Azerbaijani guards closed the Berdzor Corridor to travel after a border skirmish between Armenian and Azerbaijani soldiers on the morning of June 15. A group of soldiers from Azerbaijan’s border service attempted to cross the Hakari bridge at the entrance to the Berdzor Corridor in order to erect an Azerbaijani flag on Armenian territory, reported Armenian authorities. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry said the soldiers did not cross the border into Armenia. One Armenian soldier and one Azerbaijani soldier were wounded. 

A video circulating on social media appears to show Russian peacekeepers escorting the Azerbaijani guards across the bridge. The Azerbaijani soldiers were forced to retreat when the Armenian side opened fire.

The Armenian Foreign Ministry told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service that Russian Ambassador Sergei Kopyrkin visited the Foreign Ministry in Yerevan on Friday to discuss the incident. The Armenian Foreign Ministry said it conveyed Armenia’s “strong discontent” with the Russian peacekeepers’ actions and urged Russia to “take all necessary steps to ascertain the circumstances of the incident and correct the situation.”

The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said that the Armenian side was trying to prevent free movement along the Berdzor Corridor. “These military provocations by Armenia will be resolutely prevented, and its attempts to prevent the reintegration of the Armenian residents of Azerbaijan into our society will fail,” the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement. 

Movement between Armenia and Artsakh appears to have increased since the installation of the border checkpoint in April. More and more Artsakh residents have crossed the Berdzor Corridor through the border post, largely with the accompaniment of Russian peacekeepers. Azerbaijani media regularly circulates videos of Armenians crossing the border checkpoint, in order to prove to the outside world that movement along the corridor is unrestricted. These videos show Artsakh residents interacting with Azerbaijani border guards, who inspect their identification documents before allowing them to pass. 

Artsakh Ombudsman Gegham Stepanyan says these “propaganda videos” serve to “mislead the international community.”

“The presence of the checkpoint, the passport control and the inspection of cargo by Azerbaijan already present themselves as obstacles to the unhindered movement, posing a real threat not only to people’s security, but also bears significant risks of applying other arbitrary preventive measures at any time,” Stepanyan said.

The NKR InfoCenter, the official news source of Artsakh, said that “any movement through the corridor cannot be interpreted as an act legitimizing the illegal control of Azerbaijan and accepting the non-existent Azerbaijani jurisdiction over these territories.”

It added that “severely limited humanitarian movement cannot be considered the end of the blockade of Artsakh” in a June 2 statement. 

However, even prior to the closure of the corridor on June 15, movement along the border was not entirely restored. Stepanyan said that his office has documented at least three cases in which Artsakh residents were prevented from returning home after traveling to Armenia for medical treatment. 

“It is noteworthy that the Azerbaijani side allowed them to leave Artsakh at the time, while now arbitrarily and illegally bans their entry,” Stepanyan said in a June 13 statement.

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. A few hours ago PACE (Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe) voted 48 to 16 with one abstention to adopt a resolution on Ensuring free and safe access through the Lachin Corridor. There were several very strong presentations, I watched the proceedings.

    • So what. Who cares. PACE keeps voting while Artsakhtsis starve and Armenians continue to be shot.


  2. to Gurgen2: yes, so far there is no effect: the corridor remains sealed. At the same time, Azerbaijani delegation to PACE did everything they could to modify, water down the resolution. If they weren’t planning to follow it, why did they even bother? On the bright side, only 16 votes were against, which included Azerbijan.

  3. The moment Armenians truly come to the realization and acceptance that the international community views artsarkh in the same vein as Crimea, South Ossetia, Transnistria, Abkhazia and Northern Cyprus the better. Some Western countries will as soon see artsarkh cleared of all Armenians than punish the government of karabakh “AZERBAIJAN”. With Russian power weakening and Turkish and Chinese influence increasing in The Central and Caucasus regions of Asia, Armenia increasingly has one choice and that is Run to the Western powers. But a landlocked country with a Russian military base, Russian control or influence over most asserts be it transport, power, mining, manufacturing etc and Russia being its largest trading partner etc There is only so much Armenia can be portrayed as an assert to Western and not Iranian or Russian interests. And to the extent Turkey remains an ally of the western alliance and the Only One with a large Border and frankly the easiest access to the Sea and international trade for Armenia, then Armenia must strive for peace and Open Border between it’s landlocked self and Turkey. Funnily enough, the only player that can guarantee the safety of Armenians in AZERBAIJAN is Russia and Armenia trying to reduce Russian influence is like walking a tight rope that needs a focused leadership if Armenia is to succeed or die trying.

    • BRICS is going to control over half of the world’s GDP by 2030, while the US and other NATO/western countries are falling apart and on their death bed.

      Pashinoglu and the other Civil Contract traitors forced Armenia to jump on a sinking ship.

  4. The Council of Europe and its parliament, is a sham and a joke, especially because the worst human rights violators, Azerbaijan and Turkey, are still its members, which brings the whole organization and its parliament into disrepute.

    If the Council of Europe was really serious about human rights, democracy, the rule of law, respect for borders, etc…, it would not just warn and censure these two rogue states for the umpteenth time, for their neverending gross human rights violations and aggression against their neighbors, it would have frozen their memberships and better yet, expelled them from the organization a long time ago, which is long overdue.

    The Council of Europe only expelled Russia, when it invaded Ukraine in 2022, and not because of its gross human rights violations. It previously, froze Russia’s membership in 2014, after it annexed Crimea. However, due to Germany’s and France’s typical appeasement policy, the freezing was lifted in 2018, much to the fury of Ukraine and eastern EU and NATO members.

    Apart from blocking and starving Armenians in Artsakh, as a prelude to ethnically cleanse them, Azerbaijan has invaded the territory of the Republic of Armenia since 2021 and is further encroaching, and Turkey is occupying 40 percent of Cyprus since 1974. Apparently, these criminal acts are not “sufficient” to expel them, or even to freeze their memberships.

  5. Dump Russia, join Turkey and the western countries. Erdoğan is not going to live forever. I’m pretty sure it’s his last term.

    Russia is the new North Korea.

  6. Steve,

    What “gross human rights violations” is Russia guilty of that Europeans and Americans have not been doing for ages?
    Have you heard of JFK? Have you heard of Assange? There have been hundreds of assassinations of Americans the US deep state considered dangerous. There are hundreds of politocal prisoners in US jails. You speak of Crimea. Just like Artsakh is Armenia, Crimea has been Russia for over two hundred years. Besides, speaking of crimes against humanity, have you heard of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan? Have you heard of Guantanamo Bay? Have you heard of that US colony called Puerto Rico? Where do people like you get your education? Please enlighten us so that we can all confidently jump on the professional Russophobe band wagon.

    • I just pointed out the hypocrisy, the ineffectiveness and the inconsistencies of the Council of Europe. I am not anti-Russia/pro-Russia nor anti-West/pro-West. I am absolutely opposed to Azerbaijan and Turkey, who only wish ill for Armenia, which the former does not even hide, and Nikol Pashinyan’s overtures to them from a position of weakness, which is fatal for Armenia.

      I firmly believe that Armenia must have a smart and effective foreign policy that ensures the national interests, safeguards the territorial integrity and the independence of Armenia and the well being of its people in this very problematic neighborhood (to put it politely) surrounded by two hostile predatory powers, who want to eliminate Armenia from the map and chase away Armenians from their ancient homeland.

      We have seen the horrible results, what a bad and ineffective foreign policy can do to a country, under the disastrous leadership of Nikol Pashinyan. He destroyed the balanced foreign policy of Armenia and being seen as pro-West, he alienated Russia, who punished by doing nothing to help Armenia during the Second Artsakh War, just as it punished Azerbaijan during the First Artsakh War and Georgia during the South Ossetia War, when they were pro-West.

      A smart foreign policy is absolutely vital for a country, just like a modern, well prepared and effective military, not just economic propsperity and democracy. Nikol Pashinyan did not dwell on the former, nor did he deliver on the latter.

    • I agree with everything you said. I thought you were signaling out Russia unfairly. Long story short, the quicker we get rid of Nikol and repair our relations with Russia the better. Let’s hope that the war in Ukraine end sooner than later, and does so with a Russian victory.

  7. gurgen, before that Crimea was part of Turkey for hundreds of years, before Russia conquered it from them. We can decide to live two million years in the past and justify unjustified actions using ancient history or live in the now, with its games and backstabbing. you don’t survive by shouting about how all of Iran, AZERBAIJAN, turkey and Georgia was once Armenian aciant territory, you survive by playing your cards in the present, something many Armenians still holding on to the idea of karabakh as Armenia still don’t understand. That kind of attitude will lead to there being no Armenia in the world map 200 years from now.

    • No it wasn’t. for a while it was a vassal state of the Ottoman Empire (not Turkey). Similar to Moldavia or Transylvania. Crimean Khanate was the last piece of Golden Horde (as in Batu khan, Genghis khan’s grandson) remaining in Europe. Crimean tartars speak a turkic language which belongs to the same group as karachay and karaim. They don’t speak turkish.

    • And before that Crimea was part of the Eastern Roman Empire. And? In any case, are Turks willing to let go of northern Cuprus and Latakia? Long story short, Armenia will exist long after Turkey is wiped off the map. Enjoy it while it lasts.

  8. Russia isn’t doing that well the recent mutiny/attempt is not the thing that happens in a successful nation at war “special military operation” remember the Russian mutiny of 1917 the bomb plot against Hitler in 1944 both nations were loosing at the time.

    As for selling out a common charge against Pashinyan especially by the diaspora surprisingly little is mentioned about the blatant sell out by the church of land within the Armenian quarter in Jerusalem

    • You are right about the Armenian quarter land issue. Why is this happening now, nobody seems to connect the dots…

  9. Well, I never realized that a little chunk of Armenian land, situated in the Middle East, is just as important to the Armenian nation as,Republic of Armenia and Artsakh. Maybe ,Concerned , the walking Encyclopedia, would have a rational answer to your concerns.

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