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Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Armenia appeals to US for help in Nagorno-Karabakh crisis

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Armenia has urged the United States to intervene in the escalating conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed region that is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but has a majority Armenian population. Armenia’s ambassador-at-large Edmon Marukyan said Washington must stop Azerbaijan’s “aggression” against the breakaway region and protect its civilian population.

 The appeal came as Azerbaijan launched what it called “local anti-terrorist activities” in Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, claiming that its army had come under “systematic shelling” from Armenian forces.

Armenia denied the accusation and said that Azerbaijan was carrying out “large-scale aggression” against Nagorno-Karabakh, with heavy bombardment of the regional capital of Stepanakert.

However, tensions have been simmering since December 2020, when Azerbaijani activists backed by the government began blocking the Lachin corridor, cutting off the flow of people and goods between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. In April 2023, Azerbaijan established a new security checkpoint along the route, further restricting access to the region. These moves have created a “rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation” in Nagorno-Karabakh, according to the US and other international actors.

Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire agreement and trying to annex Nagorno-Karabakh by force. It has also criticized Turkey for its role in supporting Azerbaijan and called for international pressure on Ankara to stop its involvement. Armenia has also sought support from its treaty ally Russia, which has expressed concern over the situation but has not taken any concrete action to defuse it.

The US, which is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group that mediates the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, has called for an immediate end to hostilities and a return to negotiations. It has also urged both sides to respect human rights and international humanitarian law. However, it has not indicated any willingness to intervene militarily or diplomatically in the crisis.

The conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh is one of Europe’s “frozen conflicts” that has periodically erupted into violence and threatened regional stability. It is also a test of the balance of power between Russia, Turkey and the West in the South Caucasus, a strategic area that borders Iran and hosts oil and gas pipelines. The fate of Nagorno-Karabakh and its people remains uncertain as they face a new round of bloodshed and suffering.

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