Azerbaijan Stops Armenian Convoy To Nagorno-Karabakh [RFE/RL]
Azerbaijan has refused to allow through the Lachin Corridor a convoy of trucks that Armenia said were delivering emergency food aid to the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The Lachin Corridor, the only road linking Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, has been blocked by Baku for more than seven months.
The Armenian government said on July 25 that it will try to send 360 tons of flour, cooking oil, sugar, and other basic foodstuffs to Nagorno-Karabakh to alleviate severe food shortages there caused by the blockade.
Armenian officials expressed hope that Russian peacekeepers would escort the relief supplies.
Nineteen Armenian trucks reached the entrance to the Lachin Corridor late in the afternoon on July 26 but remained stranded there in the following hours, with Baku refusing to let them though an Azerbaijani checkpoint set up there in April.
In a statement, the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry condemned the aid convoy as a "provocation" and said it was an attack on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity.
A senior aide to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said Yerevan should renounce "territorial claims" to his country.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian defended the attempted delivery of the humanitarian aid.
"We cannot turn a blind eye to the situation that Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh are currently facing," Pashinian wrote on Twitter.
"The 360 tons of vitally important foodstuff sent to Nagorno-Karabakh [are] exclusively for humanitarian purposes."
Tensions have been high over the situation on the Lachin Corridor.
Azerbaijan earlier this month suspended traffic through a checkpoint on the corridor pending an investigation after it said "various types of contraband" had been discovered in the Red Cross vehicles coming from Armenia.
The suspension of traffic heightened concerns over a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Both Armenia and separatist authorities in the enclave have said that Azerbaijan has blockaded the territory since December, resulting in shortages of food, medicines, and energy.
Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh, a predominantly Armenian-populated mountainous enclave that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan. The most recent war lasted six weeks in late 2020 and left 7,000 soldiers on both sides.
As a result of the war, Azerbaijan regained control over a part of Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts. The war ended with a Russian-brokered cease-fire under which Moscow deployed about 2,000 troops to serve as peacekeepers.
(c) 2023, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty