“Azerbaijan’s policy is a challenge to the whole civilized world and must unconditionally meet with tough reaction,” read a statement released by the foreign ministry in Stepanakert. It said the international community should “apply an adequate toolkit for unblocking Artsakh.”
The United States and the European Union explicitly urged Azerbaijan last week to unblock the corridor. Russia similarly expressed concern about the “blocking of the Lachin corridor” controlled by Russian peacekeeping troops stationed in Karabakh.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry claimed that traffic through the corridor was blocked by the peacekeepers, rather than Azerbaijanis demanding that Baku be given access to two Karabakh mines.
The Karabakh leadership appealed to the outside world as the Armenian-populated territory faced growing shortages of medicines, gasoline and some food products.
“There is a shortage of sugar here,” one Stepanakert resident told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Frankly, cigarettes are also running out.”
Karabakh still has sufficient stocks of flour, local officials told the Karabakh premier, Ruben Vardanyan, during a daily meeting of a task force dealing with consequences of the road blockade. Vardanyan ordered them to minimize the use of cars powered by gasoline.
Local hospitals, which indefinitely postponed non-urgent surgeries, are still unable to transfer their gravely ill patients to Armenia for further treatment. So far the Azerbaijani side has allowed them to evacuate only one such patient. Another one died in a Stepanakert clinic on Monday.
Meanwhile, more than a thousand Karabakh Armenians remained stuck in Armenia, according to the authorities in Stepanakert. One of them, Anna Muradian, travelled to Yerevan earlier this month to visit the Yerablur military cemetery where her husband, killed during the 2020, war was laid to rest.
Muradian was on her way back to Stepanakert when the Azerbaijani protesters blocked the vital road on December 12. She is increasingly anxious to reunite with her two young sons aged 3 and 6.
“The kids are worried about their mom stuck on the road,” said the young woman. “When we were in [the Armenian town of] Goris on the first day [of the blockade] they asked where I am going to spend the night, when and how I will get back.”
Ruzan Hovannisian, another Karabakh Armenian woman stranded in Yerevan, still hopes to spend the New Year and Christmas holidays with her 15-year-old daughter and parents in Stepanakert.
“We went through worse times in the 1990s,” said Hovannisian. “What hurts me the most is the separation from my child. I’m sure that we will manage the rest.”