Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov has said Azerbaijan will take ‘necessary steps’ to prevent the alleged transfer of weapons to Nagorno-Karabakh through the Lachin corridor.
Speaking to journalists on Thursday, Bayramov accused Armenia of using the Lachin Corridor to send weapons to Nagorno-Karabakh ‘contrary to the previously reached agreements’.
Following the conclusion of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, the Lachin Corridor became the only open connection between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia, as well as the rest of the world. The corridor is under the control of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh, which also relies on the route to maintain its presence.
‘The corridor is not being used for its intended purpose, and this should be stopped’, Bayramov said on Thursday.
‘Mines buried in Karabakh in 2021 were delivered there through the Lachin corridor, it is not possible otherwise,’ he said.
Armenia’s Ambassador at large, Edmon Marukyan, called Azerbaijan’s claims of discovering mines produced in 2021 around Nagorno-Karabakh ‘a total lie’. He said Azerbaijan had taken landmines from Armenian territory seized by Azerbaijani forces to ‘create false grounds to dispute Lachin Corridor’.
The war of words, along with daily reports of ceasefire violations, have raised fears that a new escalation or even full-scale war may be imminent,
Bayramov’s comments echoed those of the deputy head of the State Security Service, Jeyhun Shadlinski, who on Wednesday also said weapons and ammunition was being illegally transported into Nagorno-Karabakh.
The recent comments were not the first by Azeraijani officials concerning the Lachin Corridor. Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev has previously compared the arrangement with proposed transport links between western Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan, which he refers to as the ‘Zangezur Corridor’.
‘The Zangezur Corridor is an obligation of Armenia, which it has committed to. For two years, we have not touched the cars going from Armenia to Karabakh and in the opposite direction through the Lachin road’, Aliyev said in a speech in Shusha (Shushi) on the second anniversary of the war’s end.
‘We have committed, and we are fulfilling it — free movement. Armenia has also committed to this between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Let there be a road connection between them. Two years later, there is no feasibility study, no movement, no railway, no road. How long do we have to wait?’ Aliyev said.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has previously accused Azerbaijan of ‘inventing grounds’ to close the Lachin corridor and cut Nagorno-Karabakh off, and of preparing a ‘genocide of Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh’.
For ease of reading, we choose not to use qualifiers such as ‘de facto’, ‘unrecognised’, or ‘partially recognised’ when discussing institutions or political positions within Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and South Ossetia. This does not imply a position on their status.