Armenia on Wednesday accused arch-foe Azerbaijan of being responsible for a humanitarian crisis in the Nagorno-Karabakh region after Azerbaijani activists blocked the only road connecting the separatist territory with Armenia.
The neighboring countries have in recent decades fought several brutal wars for control of the mountainous territory in the ex-Soviet Caucasus region.
Azerbaijanis since Monday have been blocking a road to protest what they claim is illegal mining causing environmental damage in the predominantly Armenian breakaway region.
Baku claims the protest was spontaneous but Yerevan accused it of orchestrating the demonstrations.
Armenia’s parliament on Wednesday adopted a resolution accusing Azerbaijan of “cutting off Nagorno-Karabakh from the outside world.”
It said people there had been “denied the right of free movement” and that the region is suffering from shortages of foodstuffs, medicines, and fuel.
“A humanitarian crisis is under way in Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of Azerbaijan’s actions.”
Hikmet Hajiyev, a foreign policy advisor to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said, “Armenia had been for decades exploiting Karabakh’s natural resources and inflicting environmental damage.”
“Civil society representatives are trying to stop the illegal transportation of stolen natural resources.”
US State Department spokesman Ned Price warned that the “closure” of the Lachin Corridor connecting Karabakh with Armenia “has severe humanitarian implications and sets back the peace process.”
“We call on the government of Azerbaijan to restore free movement through the corridor,” he added in a statement earlier.
In 2020 and in the 1990s, Baku and Azerbaijan fought over Karabakh, Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave.
Six weeks of fighting in autumn 2020 claimed more than 6,500 lives before hostilities ended with a Russian-brokered truce that saw Yerevan cede territories it had controlled for decades.
Moscow stationed peacekeepers in the parts of Karabakh that remained under Armenian separatists’ control, including the so-called Lachin corridor, the region’s sole transport link with Armenia.
When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, ethnic Armenian separatists in Nagorno-Karabakh broke away from Azerbaijan. The ensuing conflict claimed around 30,000 lives.