It again condemned the continuing Azerbaijani blockade of the Lachin Corridor as a gross violation of the Russian-brokered agreement that stopped the 2020 war in Karabakh.
The truce agreement placed the corridor under the control of Russian peacekeeping forces and committed Baku to guaranteeing free and safe traffic through it. A section of the vital road used for supplying Karabakh with food and other essential items was blocked on December 12 by government-backed Azerbaijanis on ostensibly environmental grounds.
“The lack of essential goods, food and medicine [in Karabakh] is becoming more and more significant and the danger of malnutrition palpable,” the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “Hundreds of families remain separated, being on different sides of the Azerbaijani blockade. 120,000 people [living in Karabakh] have been turned into de facto prisoners.”
The ministry called for the urgent dispatch of an international fact-finding mission to Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor.
“Since provisions of the tripartite [ceasefire] declaration have been violated as a result of Azerbaijan's illegal actions, we also expect Russia to make clear efforts to eliminate this gross violation without any preconditions,” added the statement.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian charged last week that the Russian peacekeepers have become a “silent witness” to Baku’s efforts to “depopulate” Karabakh through the blockade. He said Moscow should come up with a plan to reopen the corridor or seek a multinational peacekeeping mission in Karabakh.
Russian officials rejected the criticism, saying that the peacekeepers are doing their best to end the crisis. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also stressed that the United Nations cannot authorize an alternative peacekeeping operation in Karabakh without Baku’s consent.
The UN Security Council discussed the Azerbaijani blockade on December 20 during an emergency session initiated by Armenia. The United States, Russia, France and other nations called for the immediate reopening of the sole road connecting Karabakh to Armenia.
Nevertheless, the members of the Security Council failed to agree in the following days on the text of a relevant statement. An Azerbaijani diplomat said late last week that an “anti-Azerbaijani” statement drafted by France was blocked by Albania, Britain, Russia and the United Arab Emirates.
Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the UN, Dmitry Polyansky, clarified shortly afterwards that Moscow objected to such a document because its French authors rejected amendments proposed by the Russian side. He said the proposed changes stressed the importance of Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements brokered by Russia and the Russian military presence in Karabakh.
“Russia was prepared for constructive work [on the statement] but France resorted to unscrupulous methods,” Polyansky said in a social media post.
In a clear jibe at Moscow, the Armenian Foreign Ministry praised the French diplomatic efforts at the UN.