Azerbaijan continued to block the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia, ignoring appeals from the United States and the European Union.
Natural gas supplies from Armenia to Karabakh, carried out through a pipeline passing through Azerbaijani-controlled territory, were also not restored. Baku denied responsibility for their disruption reported on Tuesday.
“We don’t know how long this blockade will continue,” Ruben Vardanyan, the Karabakh state minister, said in a video address to the local population. “That is why we are introducing a saving regime for all, including the government.”
In particular, Vardanyan said, ambulances, public buses and vehicles of security and emergency services will now have priority access to local fuel stations.
At an emergency meeting held in Stepanakert later in the morning, he ordered officials to urgently work out “mechanisms and procedures” for the fuel rationing. Most vehicles in Karabakh run on liquefied or pressurized natural gas.
Vardanyan, who holds the second most important position in Karabakh’s leadership, also confirmed that classes in Karabakh schools and colleges using gas for heating purposes have been suspended indefinitely.
Some Stepanakert residents already began using firewood for winter heating. One of them, Berta Poghosian, said her family stocked up on firewood earlier this year because it realized that “gas may be cut off one day.”
Poghosian’s six children study in a local school which is also heated by wood stoves. The school was not closed because of that, said the Karabakh Armenian woman.
Karabakh was already left without gas for nearly three weeks in March after an Azerbaijani-controlled section of the pipeline was knocked out by an apparent explosion. Armenian and Karabakh officials said at the time that the supply disruption was part of Baku’s efforts to force Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian residents to leave the disputed territory.
“The mood among people here varies … but nobody sees the end of the world,” Poghosian told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “We think that we will fight and overcome these difficulties as well.”
Vardanyan likewise stated “there is no panic” in Karabakh. “People are really ready to fight,” he said in his live Facebook broadcast.