Representatives of Artsakh and Azerbaijan met with the mediation of the Russian peacekeeping command on Saturday, Artsakh’s presidential office reported. The blockade, however, has not been lifted.
Presidential spokespersons Lusine Avanesyan said issued related to the lifting of the Artsakh blockade, stable and uninterrupted gas and electricity supplies were discussed.
During the meeting a agreement was reached on ensuring the uninterrupted operation of the Armenia-Artsakh gas pipeline, the repair of the power grid at the Shinuhair-Stepanakert road and the complete restoration of the power supply.
“We are waiting for appropriate steps from the Azerbaijani side, which will enable our specialists to reach the place of power supply failure, assess the damage and start repair work,” Avanesyan said.
“As for the removal of the roadblock, according to our data, the Russian side continues to make efforts in that direction, and we hope that there will be a positive change in that regard in a short period of time,” Avanesyan added.
Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artsakh began on December 12 when a group of civilians posing as environmental activists closed the Lachin Corridor, the only road linking Artsakh to Armenia and thus the outside world. This has created an acute humanitarian crisis, with Azerbaijan cutting Artsakh gas and electricity supply from Armenia, forcing the population to make unforeseen sacrifices to confront the shortages.
Azerbaijan, especially its president, Ilham Aliyev, had demanded the Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan be removed form his position. After attempts to resist, Artsakh president Arayik Harutyunyan dismissed Vardanyan on Thursday, a step many view as a concession to Baku. This demand reportedly was voiced last Saturday when Aliyev and Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who hosted talks on the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan in Munich.
Russia, whose peacekeeping contingent in Artsakh has been tasked to control the Lachin Corridor, per the November 9, 2020 agreement, was seen as doing little to resolve the situation, causing a rift between Yerevan and Moscow.
This is a developing story.