Biden’s inaction on Artsakh disappoints Armenian-Americans

There are many justified complaints about Russia’s shameful role in the loss of Artsakh and inaction in coming to the defense of Armenia’s borders. However, there is also a lot to complain about regarding the indifference of the international community, including the United States, to Azerbaijan’s aggression against Artsakh and Armenia.

For 30 years, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, composed of the United States, France and Russia, the mediators in the Artsakh conflict, issued repeated statements about the unacceptability of the use of force, urging the settlement of the dispute through peaceful negotiations.

However, contrary to such well-intentioned words, when Azerbaijan repeatedly attacked Artsakh and Armenia with frequent shootings at the border for three decades, the OSCE Minsk Group simply issued meaningless statements, urging both sides not to engage in violence. The OSCE, however, never bothered to point a finger at the guilty party – Azerbaijan – thus equating the victimizer with the victim.

Such unjust statements encouraged Azerbaijan to brazenly continue its attacks, culminating in the unleashing of a massive war against Artsakh in 2020, followed by incursions into the territory of Armenia. Last month, Azerbaijan violated the agreement it signed in 2020 to allow Russian peacekeepers to protect the remnants of Artsakh’s population until 2025. Pres. Ilham Aliyev, knowing full well that no foreign country would intervene to stop his attacks, ethnically cleansed the 120,000 inhabitants of Artsakh and drove them out of their historical homeland.

On Sept. 14, 2023, the Acting Assistant Secretary of State Yuri Kim testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee: “We will not tolerate any military action. We will not tolerate any attack on the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.” Days later, Azerbaijan attacked and occupied Artsakh confident that the U.S. government was bluffing.

Naturally, no one expected the United States or another major power to send troops to defend Artsakh and Armenia, but merely urging Azerbaijan not to block the Berdzor (Lachin) Corridor or refrain from the use of force is an exercise in futility. The international community did not even impose sanctions on Azerbaijan because its oil and gas was more valuable than Armenian blood.

To make matters worse, after ignoring Azerbaijan’s repeated attacks on Artsakh and Armenia since the 2020 war, Samantha Power, the administrator of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), finally arrived in Armenia last week, bringing along a letter from Pres. Joe Biden which contained a lot of sweet words for Armenians, but once again, no action.

Even more shocking, Power offered the pitiful amount of $11.5 million in humanitarian aid to the 120,000 destitute Artsakh refugees. That’s about $96 for each refugee deprived of housing, food, medicines and other basic necessities. This is a shameful amount of money compared to USAID’s annual budget of $50 billion. Her visit was too late and accomplished too little.

Several other countries and international agencies also pledged assistance to the Artsakh Armenians: France ($7.4 million), Germany ($5.3 million), the European Union ($5.3 million), Sweden ($1.3 million), Canada ($1.85 million), Denmark ($140,000), United Nations Refugee Agency, UNHCR (amount unspecified), Japan (amount unspecified) and Spain (amount unspecified). Armenia committed $25 million, plus $125 for rent and utilities per month for six months for each refugee. The government of Cyprus invited the Artsakh refugees to resettle in Cyprus. However, it is not a good idea to take these displaced Armenians out of Armenia.

In addition, dozens of Armenian organizations throughout the Diaspora are raising funds to help the Artsakh refugees. There are also many charitable organizations and businesses in Armenia that are helping the Artsakh Armenians with funds, supplies or services. Armenia’s Ministry of Finance opened a bank account to receive donations from the public. There is also an office set up by the Armenian government to coordinate the distribution of the offered assistance.

Just in case anyone thinks that the pledged assistance is a lot of money, it is in fact a negligible amount compared to the vast needs of the refugees for the months and years to come. Ukraine, on the other hand, has received $80 billion so far from the United States for its military, financial and humanitarian needs. In addition, 41 other countries have contributed tens of billions of dollars to Ukraine.

The lack of concrete action by the Biden administration, aside from pledging $11.5 million to the Artsakh refugees, has greatly disappointed many Armenian-Americans. It is surprising that Pres. Biden, an experienced politician and candidate for reelection next year, who has one of the lowest ratings in the history of the United States for an incumbent president, has not made more of an effort to win over Armenian-American voters. Even if Pres. Biden does not care about Armenia and Artsakh, he should have at least cared about his own self-interest, which is getting votes for his re-election.

Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

California Courier Editor
Harut Sassounian is the publisher of The California Courier, a weekly newspaper based in Glendale, Calif. He is the president of the Armenia Artsakh Fund, a non-profit organization that has donated to Armenia and Artsakh one billion dollars of humanitarian aid, mostly medicines, since 1989 (including its predecessor, the United Armenian Fund). He has been decorated by the presidents of Armenia and Artsakh and the heads of the Armenian Apostolic and Catholic churches. He is also the recipient of the Ellis Island Medal of Honor.


  1. @Harut Sassounian

    Oh for goodness sakes!

    Pashinyan publicly declared that Artsakh was part of Azerbaijan.

    Pashinyan publicly declared that the Armenian Army would not get involved in the fight for Artsakh.

    What, then, did you possibly expect Russia to do when Pashinyan had washed his hands off Artsakh?

    Why on Earth should any Russian die for Artsakh when Armenians won’t?

    As for America, you live there so you know perfectly well that 99.99% of Americans cannot find Armenia on a map.

    • The bottom line is that Armenia, Russia, and Azerbaijan signed a treaty on November 9, 2020 which stated that the Lachin Corridor would remain open and there was to be no further military attacks. Russia assumed the responsibility to assure the integrity of the Lachin Corridor. Russia assumed the peacekeeping role. These are facts. Russia did neither. Both Azerbaijan and Russia broke the very treaty they signed less that 3 years ago.
      Personally it makes no sense to talk to Putin or Aliyev because any agreement you sign with them is worthless. Armenia should be developing atomic bombs if they haven’t already started as their best hope of deterrence.

    • Robert Whig
      Your remarks show you either don’t follow the news or have no clue what you are talking about. Setting aside the fact that unqualified, dysfunctional, incompetent, pacifist, unpatriotic and traitorous Pashinyan should never have been allowed to run a country, let alone one in a state of war for the last thirty years, it was Russia’s president Putin who made that claim first and he did it right after the 2020 joint terrorist Turkish-Azerbaijani invasion. Given the fact that according to Putin himself the collapse and the disintegration of the USSR was one of the worst geopolitical catastrophes that befell on the Russians, it is clear that Putin’s statement was more pro-Russian than anything else because to return to the good old days of USSR, or some other form of it, would require Artsakh be under our enemy occupation.

      As irresponsible and treasonous as it sounds, the incompetent Pashinyan’s statement that the Armenian army would not get involved in Artsakh militarily, despite the fact that he was responsible for the lion’s share of what took place, implies that the Russian “peacekeepers” acting as intermediaries were there with a clear mission of keeping the two sides apart and to prevent any such thing from happening in the first place. They not only did not do that but they also allowed the enemy forces to overrun that place with no opposition or resistance whatsoever. This of course shows that it is naïve to assume that any foreign force would care about your dire situation than you ever would and that none of them should be trusted. Some may even say that the “peacekeepers” facilitated the enemy belligerent behavior because their boss in Moscow did not approve of Pashinyan and that keeping Azerbaijan close to Russia would pay high dividends in their upcoming invasion of Ukraine as we today see doing exactly that by selling EU-sanctioned Russian oil & gas to the very same EU through Azerbaijani pipelines. Our Azerbaijani enemy is in effect financing the Russian war machine in Ukraine!

  2. By officially abandoning Artsakh, Nikol placed the entire responsibility of Artsakh on Moscow’s shoulders. This was Nikol blackmailing Moscow at a time when Russia is stuck in an existential war against the collective West in Ukraine. With Armenia officially out of the picture, and with a major war on its door step, Russia decided its best to maintain good relations with Baku and Ankara. Russians did the right thing. Nikol’s Armenia is solely responsible for Artsakh’s fall.

    • As above Russia broke the treaty they signed on November 9, 2020. They are unreliable. They are not under existential threat. They chose to invade Ukraine for economic benefit.

  3. In my humble and amateur opinion, there are 3 reasons for why Americans are so indifferent to the Artsakh situation, but not Ukraine’s.

    1. As Americans, we are regularly beaten over the head that we’re technically occupying land that isn’t “ours”. (Aka, should be Native American lands from shore to shore.) Thus, at least for me, when I hear “indigenous rights” I shut down from cognitive dissonance. If I would defend Artsakh’s claim, shouldn’t I then also defend Native American claims? Or Assyrians? Kurds? Palestinians? (and on and on) Should I split myself in 2, and move half of me to Scandinavia and half to the Czech republic, since technically those are my genetics? Even though I’ve never been to either region? Or do I get to stay in American as a 3rd generation citizen? Quibbling over (literal) ancient history of who that land used to belong to is a waste of time and energy to me. This is what’s happening now; yearning for the past is simply irrelevant when contemplating the current status. That is harsh and cold, but the truth. Ukraine’s sovereignty was never in doubt, at least at the international stage.

    2. Generally speaking, the Azeri’s have kept the conflicts within their internationally recognized borders (though have obviously tested that line. Repeatedly!). From my perspective, I find it greatly annoying when people refuse to assimilate when moving to America. Aka, won’t learn English or don’t learn local driving laws. Or, the “sovereign citizen” movement. No, they’re in this country, they are a citizen, and laws, etc apply no matter what those deluded people think. I can see why Azeri’s have no patience for people clamoring that they are not Azeri, won’t learn the language, and actively fight against them. If part of the US was hell bent on breaking off and join Canada, or Mexico, would I “respect their rights” and wish them well? Honestly, no. Ukraine was invaded; those international borders already breached in 2014 with Crimea, and now again. Given that Putin has made it extremely clear he wants USSR 2.0, we know he won’t stop at Ukraine. Or Moldova. And how many other countries do the state tv propaganda pundits *regularly* threaten to nuke? Poland, Germany, England, the Baltic states, the US, etc. “From Portugal to Japan or we’ll destroy the entire world!” Yeah, I find that a *massive* threat worth sending billions in aid for.

    3. This is ad nauseum at this point, but Armenia is in CSTO and E(A)EU, and hosting Russian bases. Russian “peacekeepers”, by the thousands, were deployed to Artsakh. Right or wrong, Armenia has been almost completely in Russia’s orbit. Anyone new to the topic who does even an hour of investigating sees how tightly Armenia is tied to it’s Big Brother. While I see Armenia (Pashinyan, really?) is trying to pivot westwards, and is clearly displeased with CSTO, they’re still in the pact, and so on. Ukraine gave up their nukes in the 90’s for peace. They aren’t in any of the Russian organizations. These are key differences that the diaspora always glosses over.

    It would be wonderful if we had enough resources to fight for justice everywhere, but we don’t. And over and over, the US botches it (sorry to Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, etc). If you weren’t Armenian/descendants of, you wouldn’t care about this either. Do you show such passion for Uighurs? Do you protest and march for Somaliland? Where’s the Armenian compassion for endlessly starving North Koreans?

    It has become I should be ashamed for everything my life. I should be ashamed just to be American. I should be ashamed for being white. I should be ashamed for not being vegan and thus murdering animals. I should be ashamed I don’t do more for the environment. I am a “bigot” for not wanting men in women’s sports / safe spaces. Again, on and on. I’m sure the government and gov’t officials get all of that and more. Endless blaming and shaming. Maybe you think deserved, but I doubt the tactic is remotely effective.

    • This rambling monologue about your personal world view leaves out the following. For 130 years Turks have been trying to exterminate Armenians from their ancestral homeland. The was 300,000 Armenians killed in the Hamidian massacres for 1894-96. There were 1.5 million Armenians systematically and brutally murdered in Turkey from 1915-1923 during the Armenian Genocide. Nakhchevan was once over 50% Armenian but during Soviet times they were systematically murdered or expelled. Why do you think the Artsakh Armenians fought for independence after they fall of the Soviet Union? They knew they would never be safe under Azeri rule and they were right. Now Armenia is next. First it will be the Zangezur corridor cutting off Armenia from Iran. Then with the country virtually surrounded the Turks will finish the plan over time. Armenia needs to develop atomic weapons, and do it fast.

    • Outstanding NA! My cousin’s wife is of Armenia heritage & she has made me aware of what is happening in that region. You hit on so many points regarding living in the US, I wholehardely agree with everyone you say. Well said my friend. I don’t know your politics, but you sound like a normal, common sense American who is exhausted of being bashed everyday. We have 2024 to Right our country. God Bless NA

    1- Speaking on the behalf of Indigenous American people, you yourself is not one and therefore do not understand the meaning of it, and since your speaking about the present and you don’t care about History and the past, currently US Government is not terrorizing, staving and displacing the Endogenies people of United States.
    2- Today’s media keep reaping the same lines without understanding the reality behind their statements “INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED BORDERS”, INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED BORDERS created by whom and when?
    BOLSHEVIK dictators and USSR no longer exist, if we are speaking of now, the lines that were drown by Dictator Stalin disappeared some 30 years ago, yet every one is singing the same song “INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED BORDERS”, knowing that 10’s of thousand of Indigenous Armenians lived and were still living on these lands(their ancestral lands) until a week ago, the region is called ARTSAKH.
    3- Putin wants USSR 2.0, and threatens of NUKE – you are forgetting Scandinavia and Czech Republic from your list though, and that’s what dictators do, Threaten if they don’t get what they want, same think with your friend TURKS.
    And your point #3. You are right about this one, but, what do you do when you have Russia’s puppets controlling and running the Armenias government in the interest of their “MOTHER RUSSIA”, (and I say their mother land because they still have that BOLSHEVIK blood running trough their vanes) for past 30 years, Armenia has been relying on Kremlin for the countries Military protection. The CSTO and E(A)EU what ever that is nothing but bowl SH….
    but you are wrong about this so called PM, he is any thing but pro West and he is the one destroying Armenia for past 5 years + the other dictators before him.
    As for the rest of your complain about every thing else, it seams you are not an elected government official, if you were you would understand that government official duty is to help helpless people, and countries . Remember we the Armenian people (who emigrated to US just like your ancestors did) are paying taxes for Ukraine War, and all other countries in destress.

    • Re your point #2, I also don’t understand what they mean by “internationally recognized borders”. Recognized by whom based on which piece of paper? I think it’s a ruse. What are Moldavia’s internationally recognized borders for example.

  5. So Mr. Sassounian, are you going to be consistent, and prove those of us who think you are an apologist for the democrats in the US, and call Biden a coward (like you called Trump several times) wrong?
    My guess is you will not.
    But who knows?


    • In 2020, I actually voted for the Libertarian 3rd Party Presidential Candidate. Based upon Biden’s actions as Obama’s Vice President, I didn’t trust him, despite that his Senatorial Record was Pro-Armenian.

      But, Biden did sign and endorse the 2019 Armenian Genocide Resolution, which is more than Trump ever did for Armenians. On the other hand, it’s true that he sold out Armenians, and made deals for Azerbaijan’s gas and oil.

      We had legitimate complaints about Trump:

      [1] Trump cozied up with Erdogan, a despot & autocrat, who conspired with Aliyev to make life hell for Armenians.

      [2] Trump did nothing to.intervene and condemn Azerbaijan’s 2020 coronavirus pandemic year Karabakh War that created the mess which Biden inherited upon taking office, and altered the balance of power.

      [3] Trump turned a blind eye to Erdogan’s part played in Aliyev’s War.

      [4] Trump refused to sign the 2019 Armenian Genocide Resolution, which acknowledges that the century old Ottoman Armenian Genocide was a genocide.

  7. Thank you Laurence, for pointing out and presenting some fact about Trump, Trump is nothing but an ignorant and a big Bully. God forbid he gets re-elected next year, we all will end up in a chaotic situation, and in a divided country with a civil war in our hands.
    What do should expect from a person who is the president of United State, who in 2020 in a press conference and televised not only in front of millions and millions Americans, but in front of the whole world and makes this statement, “MAYBE WE SHOULD INJECT OR HAVE PEOPLE DRINK CLOROX TO CURE COVID?
    and then turns to his right to Dr Deborah Birx (White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator from 202-2021) and asks shouldn’t we?, I think we should, right?
    Look what we have in Armenia today, an illiterate, ignorant, incompetent the so called PM, who doesn’t know anything about Geopolitics, Politics, History or any thing else for that matter, one day he is PRO- KREMLIN, and makes deals with TERRORIST DICTATOR PUTIN, one day he is PRO_TURKS and signing and giving part of Armenia away to TERRORIST DICTATORS ALIEV and now he claims that he is PRO-WEST, REALLY, than why is Armenia still part of useless Bolshevik Russ CSTO or E(A)UE (what ever these two useless and nonsense packages are)?
    Pashinoghloua is an Agent of Turks and Russians, this incompetent idiot is a ticking bomb in the heart of ARMENIA, he will not stop until he distorts Armenia.
    WHOS FAULT IS IT? well he will probably say at the end, Hey, Armenian people it’s your fault, because look, the only thing I did to get PM cheer is to march from Goumry to Yerevan and you people of Armenia made me a PM, so I’m authorized to sign any thing I want.
    Wake up my beloved Armenian people it’s not too late, get this TURK and RUSS PUPPIT OUT.
    Join the – Ազգային Ժողովրդավարական Բեվերին — our only chance for real Democracy.

    • Thanks for the kind words, and acknowledgment, Mary!

      Vivek Ramaswamy was recently featured, as a 2024 Republican Candidate, by the ANCA. Recently, he spoke eloquently on behalf of Armenians, as a guest with Tucker Carlson. He actually spent some 3 minutes condemning Azerbaijan’s 21st Century Armenian Genocide Project. I’m going to be following Vivek Election Campaign, and I might even vote for him.

      As for PM Pashinyan, I see him as a blunderer & self destructive, but not as a traitor. He’s certainly not a Russian Agent, because Russia & Putin relentlessly undermine Pashinyan. I do think that the Armenian PM doesn’t measure up to the job.

      Correct me if I’m wrong, but as I recall Pashinyan was formidably defiant against Azerbaijan, prior to the 2020 defeat. with the 2020 defeat, Pashinyan adopted an embarrassingly conciliatory approach, wherein that he became easy to manipulate and humiliate. His motive is to make peace, but his gamble appears to be failing.

      Armenia will be better off when Pashinyan is gone, and someone else takes Office. Pashinyan is tarnished & damaged goods; someone else can take Office (as PM) without so much negative baggage.

  8. Western and Turkish agents in Armenian society have been floating the idea that Nikol is a Russian agent since 2018. It’s basically done as a smokescreen to hide Nikol’s real handlers. All in all, it’s part of the agenda to ruin Armenian Russians relations so that Armenia is isolated and vulnerable.

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