YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—Russian border guards are expected to carry out border checks on Azerbaijani travellers and goods that will transit Armenia’s territory as part of Armenian-Azerbaijani transport links facilitated by Moscow.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are to reopen their border to commercial and passenger traffic under the terms of a Russian-brokered ceasefire that stopped their six-week war for Nagorno-Karabakh in November 2020. The agreement specifically commits Yerevan to opening rail and road rinks that will connect Azerbaijan to its Nakhichevan exclave.
Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said last week that the Armenian side has agreed to simplify border crossing procedures for those who will use the planned transit routes. He did not elaborate.
The Armenian government has still not commented on the arrangement announced by Lavrov.
Sources familiar with the arrangement divulged some of its details to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. According to them, Azerbaijani cargos and travelers will be checked by Russian border guards and then Armenian customs officers when crossing the Armenian border.
Armenian security personnel will then escort them to the nearest Azerbaijani border checkpoint. A Russian officer will be embedded with each armed escort, the sources said.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in December that passage through that “corridor” must be exempt from Armenian border controls. Yerevan rejected his demands.
In an interview with the Al Jazeera TV channel aired on Tuesday, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan insisted that the Armenian-Azerbaijani agreements call for only conventional transport links between two countries.
“We have only one corridor in our region,” Pashinyan said. “It’s the Lachin corridor connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia.”
Areg Kochinyan, a Yerevan-based political analyst, suggested that the “simplified” border control regime would compromise Armenia’s full control over the transit road and railway leading to Nakhichevan.
“If Russian border guards, escorts are deployed there and the whole thing has a special status, it will function as a corridor,” Kochinyan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service. “Especially if no such arrangement is put in place for our passenger and cargo traffic through Azerbaijani territory.”
A Russian-Armenian-Azerbaijani commission discussing practical modalities of the transport links met in Moscow earlier this month. A Russian government statement said its Armenian and Azerbaijani members “brought closer their positions on issues of border, customs and other types of control.”