Tensions over Karabakh grow after Azerbaijan shuts land route from Armenia

Azerbaijan announced that it had built a roadblock on a single land access route to the disputed area of Nagorno-Karabakh. Both Azeri and Armenian forces then claimed responsibility for border gunshots.

Although the international community acknowledges Nagorno-Karabakh as part of Azerbaijan, its 120,000 residents, mostly of ethnic Armenian descent, broke away from Baku in a war in the early 1990s. The region is called Artsakh by the Armenians.

Due to what it claimed was Armenia using the road to transfer weapons, Azerbaijan claimed it had set up a checkpoint on the road heading to Karabakh.

According to the foreign ministry, Azerbaijan “took necessary steps to establish control at the beginning of the road.”

The government of Azerbaijan has the authority to provide border security and safe road traffic, which is a requirement for national security, state sovereignty, and the rule of law.

According to Armenia, the roadblock at the Hakari bridge in the Lachin corridor was a flagrant violation of the 2020 peace agreement that ended a 2020 war. It urged Russia to carry out the agreement’s requirement that Russian forces be in charge of the Lachin corridor, the only route through Azerbaijan that connects Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh.

The US government stated that it was “deeply concerned” about Azerbaijan setting up the roadblock on a single land access point to the disputed province of Nagorno-Karabakh, claiming it undermines efforts to bring about peace in the area.

Additionally, the US State Department emphasized the importance of unrestricted trade and travel through the Lachin corridor and urged both parties to pick up the peace negotiations.

Azeri officials shared images of the bridge on social media, showing how one side of it was blocked by cars and soldiers.

In Sotk, an Armenian village east of Lake Sevan, Azeri forces opened fire on an Armenian position, according to the defense ministry of Armenia, killing a soldier. Azerbaijan denied the soldier’s murder.

Then, Azerbaijan asserted that Armenian soldiers opened fire on Azeri units in the Lachin district; Armenia refuted this assertion.

In 2020, Azerbaijan retook the area in and around the enclave during a second conflict that ended with a ceasefire mediated by Russia.

Azeri civilians defining themselves as environmental activists have been facing off since 12 December with Russian peacekeepers on the Lachin corridor.

Armenia claims that the demonstrators are militants supported by the government who practically obstruct Karabakh. Azerbaijan claims that some aid and convoys are permitted to get through the roadblock but denies blocking it.

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