Armenia has accused Russian peacekeepers of failing to prevent a so-called “illegal blockade” in the Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh region settled by Armenia, which sparked two wars between neighbors.
Yerevan has accused Baku of triggering a humanitarian crisis in the mountainous enclave by blocking the only land connection connecting it to Armenia.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said on Thursday that the Russian peace contingent in Karabakh “is not fulfilling its obligation to control the Lachin Corridor.”
Since last week, Azerbaijani activists have been blocking the main route to protest against what they believe is illegal mining.
Baku claims that the protest was spontaneous and that civil traffic could move freely in both directions between Armenia and Karabakh.
Yerevan, however, has accused the country of staging the demonstrations, and Pashinyan said on Thursday that “the crisis in the Lachin Corridor has not yet been resolved.”
“As a result of the illegal blockade, the humanitarian situation in Karabakh is extremely difficult,” he said. “The main point of the presence of Russian peacekeepers [in Karabakh] is to prevent illegal actions and to control the Lachin Corridor.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday: “Russian peacekeepers are doing everything they can to ensure order and peace in the areas where they are deployed.”
The Armenian Parliament said last week that the region was suffering from shortages of food, medicine and fuel.
US State Department spokesperson Ned Price warned that the “closure” of the Lachin Corridor “has serious humanitarian consequences and is delaying the peace process” between the two countries.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a six-week war starting in September 2020.
The fighting killed more than 6,500 people and ended with a Russian-mediated ceasefire, in which Yerevan ceded territory it had controlled for decades.
Moscow stationed peacekeepers in parts of Karabakh that remained under the control of the Armenian separatists, including the Lachin Corridor.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh seceded from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict killed around 30,000 people.