STEPANAKERT — Nagorno-Karabakh’s main political groups have told Russian peacekeepers to refrain from significantly tightening security checks on the sole road connecting the Armenian-populated territory to Armenia.
A section of the road outside the Azerbaijani-controlled Karabakh town of Shushi was blocked by a large group of Azerbaijani officials for about four hours on Saturday. Baku claimed that they wanted to investigate “illegal” mining activity in Karabakh and its “ecological consequences.”
Traffic through the Lachin corridor was unblocked after negotiations between the officials from the Azerbaijani ministries of environment and economy and Major-General Andrey Volkov, the commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Karabakh.
Azerbaijani media quoted Volkov as saying afterwards that his troops will set up a “mini customs checkpoint” on the corridor. Officials in Stepanakert clarified on Monday that the Russians only want to install X-ray scanners there.
Volkov reportedly confirmed this to the leaders of the five Karabakh parties represented in the local legislature at a meeting held on Tuesday. One of those leaders, Davit Gasparyan, cited the Russian general as saying that Baku wants the peacekeepers to check trucks entering Karabakh from Armenia because it suspects them of transporting weapons.
Gasparyan said that he and the other Karabakh leaders strongly objected to the X-ray inspection because they consider it “an additional hurdle in our day-to-day life.”
“We told him that we not allow such actions to be taken in Artsakh,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Armenia’s Parliament speaker Alen Simonyan claimed on Monday that the Azerbaijani side is intent on closing the vital road.
Another senior Armenian lawmaker, Eduard Aghajanyan, argued on Tuesday that the Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped the 2020 Armenian-Azerbaijani war calls for unfettered communication between Armenia and Karabakh and full Russian control of the corridor.
“In this regard, any restrictive practice or detail is definitely unacceptable to us,” Aghajanyan told reporters.