Armenia has accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to prevent what it called an “illegal blockade” in Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh region which has sparked two wars between the neighbours.
Yerevan has accused Baku of creating a humanitarian crisis in the mountainous enclave by blocking the sole land link connecting it to Armenia.
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday said the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Karabakh “is not fulfilling its obligation to control the Lachin corridor”.
Azerbaijani activists have since last week blocked the key road to protest against what they claim is illegal mining.
Baku claims the protest was spontaneous and civilian transport can move freely in both directions between Armenia and Karabakh.
But Yerevan has accused it of staging the demonstrations and Pashinyan said on Thursday that “the crisis in the Lachin corridor has not yet been resolved”.
“As a result of the illegal blockade, the humanitarian situation in Karabakh is extremely difficult,” he said. “The main point of the Russian peacekeepers’ presence [in Karabakh] is to prevent illegal actions and control the Lachin corridor.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Thursday said, “Russian peacekeepers are doing everything possible to ensure order and calm in the territories where they are deployed.”
Armenia’s parliament said last week that the region was suffering from shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
US State Department spokesman Ned Price has warned that the “closure” of the Lachin corridor “has severe humanitarian implications and sets back the peace process” between the two countries.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-week war from September, 2020.
The fighting killed more than 6,500 people and ended with a Russian-brokered truce that saw Yerevan cede territories it had controlled for decades.
Moscow stationed peacekeepers in parts of Karabakh that remained under Armenian separatist control, including the Lachin corridor.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict killed about 30,000 people.