STEPANAKERT — Nagorno-Karabakh is bracing itself for a long blockade of the sole road connecting it to Armenia because Azerbaijan has set more conditions for unblocking the Lachin Corridor, according to the authorities in Stepanakert.
“They [Azerbaijan] want to control the road, which is unacceptable to us,” Ruben Vardanyan, the Karabakh State Minister, told News.am on Thursday.
“The November 9  document makes it very clear that we shall have a free road through which we can move freely without asking for anyone’s permission,” he said, referring to the Russian-brokered agreement that stopped a six-week Armenian-Azerbaijani war.
The truce agreement placed the Lachin 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 Azerbaijani protesters.
Vardanyan stressed that the Karabakh Armenians will not bow to the Azerbaijani pressure despite increasingly struggling with shortages of food, medicine and other essential items.
“We will endure,” he said. “We are somehow solving the issue of medicines. It’s not that we are going to die of hunger, but the conditions are very difficult. This situation can continue for a long time. We are preparing for that.”
Faced with the deepening food shortages, the Karabakh authorities decided earlier this week to supply local stores with cooking oil, sugar, rice and salt from their strategic reserves. Vardanyan stressed the importance of “evenly distributing” these foodstuffs when he met with officials in Stepanakert. He praised Karabakh retailers on Thursday for making sure that a single person cannot buy more than one kilogram of each of these products.
Vardanyan also rejected criticism of the Russian peacekeepers, saying that “they are doing as much as they can.”
“The people who criticize the presence of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh do not understand that they are consciously or unconsciously helping Azerbaijan because they say the same thing: that Russian peacekeepers should leave,” he told News.am. “By not offering any solution, they are simply helping to destroy the very important unity that exists in Artsakh.”