The closure of the Lachin Corridor has now reached its 100th day. One hundred twenty thousand Artsakh citizens continue to live under the siege, facing numerous hardships, but remaining steadfast in their refusal to accept Azerbaijan’s conditions.
Despite widespread appeals and condemnations, as well as the ruling of the UN International Court of Justice, Baku has ignored all such calls and continued the blockade of the corridor, choosing instead to present it as an internal matter. Mediation efforts between Artsakh and Azerbaijan by Russian peacekeepers have also failed to yield any results, with the Azerbaijani side attempting to include the issue of Artsakh becoming a part of Azerbaijan on the agenda.
In the midst of all this, Ilham Aliyev has continued to threaten Armenia and its people with war. “There is one condition for Armenia to live peacefully on the territory of 29,000 square kilometers: They should accept our conditions and officially recognize Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan,” declared the Azeri dictator during his visit to the captured Armenian village of Talish. At the summit of the leaders of Turkish states in Ankara, he once again made territorial claims against the Republic of Armenia and stroked the flames of aggression by referring to it as “Western Azerbaijan.”
Azerbaijan seemed to be upset over the phrase “People and Authorities of Karabakh” used by Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan during a recent press conference. “The Prime Minister of Armenia should understand that the rights of the population of Armenian origin in the Karabakh region could never be higher than the rights of the Azerbaijani population on its territory,” stated the spokesperson of Azerbaijan’s foreign ministry.
In light of all this, the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has correctly assessed that Azerbaijan will do everything in its power to prevent peace in the region.
At present, there is a consensus among Armenians that the only way to contain Baku’s threatening rhetoric and prevent a new war is to re-arm the Armenian forces and restore some military balance with the Azeris, at least to the extent that the Armenian army can repel enemy attacks. The day Aliyev realizes that he may not be successful in the next war, he will stop his threatening posture and tone down his language.
This week, for the first time, the Defense Minister of Armenia Suren Papikyan, in an open forum, spoke about the types of weapons with which the Armenian army is being equipped. It came during a hearing of the Committee on Defense and Security Issues of the National Assembly. “The armed forces of the Republic of Armenia have been equipped with various types of drones, anti-missile devices, anti-aircraft defense systems, and their modernized ones, caterpillar and architectural devices, demining equipment, camouflage nets, communication devices, vision devices, grenade launchers, different types of ammunition and other types of weapons and means of military equipment,” stated Papikyan, breaking the long-standing silence on the subject. Until now, information about new weapons systems being acquired by Armenia was coming from foreign sources, particularly from the Indian media.
The emphasis given to a “peace treaty” by the Armenian leadership and frequent mentions of it also plays a role in the current situation. It is being interpreted by Aliyev as a sign of weakness, which he uses to continue his outrageous speeches and psychological pressure on the Armenian side.
One hundred days after the closure of the Lachin Corridor, the situation remains stagnant, with the likelihood of a breakthrough diminishing day by day. It is time for the international community to take more decisive actions by imposing economic sanctions on Azerbaijan, and compelling it to end its blockade and attempt to force the people of Artsakh to submission through starvation.