“We call on the government of Azerbaijan and other forces responsible for the security of the [Lachin] corridor to quickly restore free movement, including for trade and humanitarian purposes,” a senior U.S. diplomat told the emergency session initiated by Armenia.
He reiterated U.S. concerns about “severe humanitarian implications” of the road blockade that began on December 12.
Nathalie Estival-Broadhurst, France’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, described the blockade as “unacceptable” and said it must be lifted “without conditions.” Estival-Broadhurst argued that the Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war commits Baku to guaranteeing free and safe traffic through the Lachin corridor.
Her Russian counterpart, Anna Evstigneeva, also cited that agreement, saying that “the sides assumed corresponding obligations which must be strictly observed.” She stressed that it placed the corridor under the control of Russian peacekeeping forces deployed in Karabakh.
“We look forward to having full-fledged transportation restored in the very near future,” Evstigneeva said, echoing a carefully-worded statement issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry last week.
“We are concerned by Azerbaijan’s closure of the Lachin Corridor,” said James Kariuki, Britain’s deputy ambassador to the UN. “This is the only way to deliver goods to the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and could have severe humanitarian consequences.”
Diplomats representing several other, non-permanent members of the Security Council, notably India, added their voice to those concerns.
For their part, the Armenian and Azerbaijani ambassadors to the UN traded fresh barbs. Azerbaijan’s Yashar Aliyev repeated Baku’s claims that the vital Karabakh road is not blocked by groups of government-backed Azerbaijani activists who set up a tent camp at one of its sections on ostensibly environmental grounds.
The protesters are demanding that the Azerbaijani government be allowed to inspect “illegal” mining operations in Karabakh. The authorities in Stepanakert and Yerevan reject the demands, saying that they run counter to the 2020 truce accord.
Evstigneeva said the Russian peacekeepers are continuing to negotiate with the conflicting sides. The talks are now focusing on “parameters for the visits of Azerbaijani environmental experts to the ore deposits in Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Russian diplomat added without elaborating.
Although the Security Council adopted no resolution or statement on the continuing blockade, Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan on Wednesday praised the “fair and principled stance” of its members. Mirzoyan also tweeted that the council meeting underscored the “international consensus on immediate and unconditional opening of the Lachin Corridor.”
Karabakh’s leadership also hailed the statements voiced by most nations sitting on the Security Council. Ruben Vardanyan, the Karabakh state minister, said their “common position is that this is an unacceptable situation.”
Azerbaijani news agencies reported, meanwhile, that the Azerbaijanis camped out on the Karabakh road leading to Armenia issued a statement denouncing the UN Security Council members’ “one-sided and biased” assessments of their actions. Azerbaijan’s Foreign Ministry released a similar statement later on Wednesday.