STEPANAKERT — A single truckload of Russian humanitarian aid reached Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday in what Moscow described as a “first step” towards the restoration of relief supplies to the region blocked by Azerbaijan.
The truck carrying 15 tons of food and other essential items provided by the Russian Red Cross entered Karabakh from the Azerbaijani town of Aghdam, a supply route which Baku has been promoting as an alternative to the Lachin corridor connecting Karabakh to Armenia.
The authorities in Stepanakert have opposed that route until now, saying that it would legitimize the nine-month Azerbaijan blockade of the Lachin corridor. They indicated at the weekend that they agreed to accept the Russian aid through the Aghdam road in return for an Azerbaijani pledge to allow Russian peacekeepers and the International Committee of the Red Cross (IRCR) to resume humanitarian supplies through the corridor.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday that Baku is ready to do that “parallel” to the opening of the second, Azerbaijani-controlled supply line.
The Russian Foreign Ministry reported later in the day an agreement on the “parallel unblocking of the Lachin and Aghdam routes.” The ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, said Moscow expects that “humanitarian aid will flow to the region unhindered in both directions on a regular basis.”
“Taking into consideration the significant difference in positions and the high level of mutual distrust, this work did not proceed easily. As a first step, on 12 September, 15 tons of food, personal hygiene products and beddings were conveyed to the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh requiring aid through the Russian Red Cross. We expect that taking into consideration the previously reached mutual-understanding, soon the Lachin Corridor will also be unblocked parallel with the Aghdam route, and then humanitarian aid will be regularly delivered to the region from the two directions,” Zakharova said.