Artsakh was emptied, and its fate mirrored that of Nakhichevan. Today, more than 100 thousand Armenians who have endured 10 months of blockade, starvation, and displacement, fled to Armenia under extremely challenging circumstances. They have lost their loved ones, homes, lands, jobs, and more.
In this tragic situation, the Armenian people as a whole must accept a portion of the responsibility. Overestimation of our capabilities, successive leaders of the country, political parties, public figures, Spiritual leaders, and everyone who clung to illusions and relied on external powers, which once again disappointed us, all share in the responsibility for this calamity.
Regrettably, our supposed ally, Russia, played a central role among those foreign forces. It not only failed to fulfill its obligations under the tripartite declaration signed on November 9 at the end of the 44-day war but also actively contributed to the realization of Azerbaijan’s plans through its inaction and, at times, even encouragement.
Immediately after the arrival of Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azeri troops began a gradual advance from their positions, in violation of the November 9 agreement, which stipulated that both sides should remain in their ceasefire positions. The Russian peacekeepers seemingly overlooked these violations, effectively allowing Azerbaijan to take further steps.
In May 2021, Azerbaijan launched an incursion into the sovereign territory of Armenia, while Moscow remained conspicuously silent, failing to express support for its ally. The same pattern repeated itself in September 2023. Armenia officially sought assistance from the Collective Security Treaty Organization, which is effectively run by Russia, yet this aid never came, citing various pretexts. Meanwhile, Russia declined to supply Armenia with essential weaponry required for the reconstruction of the Armenian military post-war, despite the payments having been made in advance. All of Russia’s actions or inactions seemed to give Azerbaijan the green light to proceed further.
The depopulation of Artsakh entered its final stage in December 2022 when a group of self-proclaimed “environmentalists” blocked the Lachin Road, a region under the control of Russian peacekeepers. Surprisingly, the peacekeepers made no effort to clear the road and ensure free movement.
This initial step was followed by the installation and complete closure of an entrance to the Lachin Corridor with a checkpoint, followed by the interruption of gas and electricity supplies, and restrictions on humanitarian aid, effectively pushing Artsakh Armenians to the brink of starvation. All of this occurred with the apparent complicity of Russia.
When the large-scale attack on September 19 unfolded, the Russian side, in less than 24 hours, coerced the leadership of Artsakh into signing a one-sided ceasefire agreement, even though the Artsakh Defense Army was still in a position to resist. According to Paku’s confession, the losses suffered by the Azeri army reached 200 in a single day.
The sad part is that Russian peacekeepers failed to facilitate a safe passage to the military and political leadership of Artsakh who were the allies of Russia. Regrettably, many of these leaders are now imprisoned in Baku.
Despite all of this, Moscow attempts to avoid responsibility, shifting the blame onto the Armenian government and the West. However, the Armenian people have borne witness to these developments and will remember the sad role that Russia played in the depopulation of Artsakh.
Before the 44-day war, 70-80 percent of the citizens of Armenia viewed Russia as a friendly nation. Today, those percentages no longer hold, and the Kremlin’s leadership, having lost the trust of the Armenian people, bears responsibility for that.
In this latest human tragedy, the West also bears a significant share of responsibility. Europe and the USA, who uttered empty words during the ten months of the siege of Artsakh, must shoulder their part of the blame. The mere threat of economic sanctions against Azerbaijan could have made the dictator of Baku reconsider his actions. Yet, that decisive step was never taken, leading us to the situation we find ourselves in today.
History will once again record, with a dark mark, the West’s failure to uphold its professed principle of protecting human rights and freedoms.
At this moment in history, we offer our “thanks” with disdain, to Russia and the West for their roles in handing Artsakh over to Azerbaijan.