NEW YORK — The United States, Russia, France and other nations again urged Azerbaijan to reopen the sole road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia during a session of the UN Security Council held on Tuesday night.
Armenia’s U.N. Ambassador Mher Margaryan told the Council his country called the emergency meeting because since Dec. 12, the Azerbaijan initiated “massive campaign of state-sponsored protests along the Lachin corridor” has blocked the only supply route in and out of Nagorno-Karabakh creating “an evolving humanitarian crisis.”
At least 1,100 civilians have been stranded along the blocked highway for the past week, and transferring patients for urgent treatment in Armenian hospitals “has become impossible, which has already resulted in fatality of a critically ill patient,” he said.
“By orchestrating an unlawful blockade of the Lachin corridor under the made-up pretext of environmental concerns,” Margaryan said, “Azerbaijan has effectively targeted a population of 120,000 people by isolating them in precarious humanitarian conditions during the winter season.” has effectively targeted a population of 120,000 people by isolating them in precarious humanitarian conditions during the winter season.”
“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.
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.
“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.
The reported blockade of the Lachin Corridor may adversely affect the supply of essential items, such as food and medicine, to Nagorno-Karabakh, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Raguttahalli Ravindra, said at the UN Security Council Emergency meeting.
“This is concerning, as it has the potential to precipitate a humanitarian crisis,” the Ambassador said.
China spoke in support of Russia’s peacekeeping mission in the region and recalled the importance of trilateral Armenian-Russian-Azerbaijani statements.
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.”