April 23 (UPI) — Azerbaijan established a checkpoint Sunday in the Lachin Corridor, the only land link between Armenia and the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region, sparking outrage in Yerevan and concern in Washington.
The Nagorno-Karabakh region has been a focal point for both countries for decades. Although the disputed border zone is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, it is mainly inhabited by Armenians and in 1991. at the beginning it declared independence from Baku.
Azerbaijan and Armenia have fought two wars over the region, the most recent of which was a six-week conflict in 2020 that ended with a ceasefire agreement that included custody of the Lachine Corridor, the mountain road and only one. reference for Nagorno-Karabakh residents to Armenia.
Baku’s state border agency said Sunday it had set up a border crossing in response to Armenia using the road to transport troops, ammunition, mines and equipment to set up its own checkpoint on Azerbaijani territory.
Its Defense Ministry accused Armenia of using the corridor on Saturday to smuggle two military containers and a convoy of military vehicles into the Nagorno-Karabakh region.
Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Defense posted a video from surveillance footage on Twitter that purportedly shows containers being transported through the corridor. the statement that the movement took place at 8 p.m. local time on Saturday with the support of Russian peacekeepers.
Azerbaijan’s checkpoint is creating a “border control mechanism” to increase transparency and counter these “threats and provocations” that violated the 2020 resolution. in November agreement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan reported. separate statement.
Armenia’s foreign ministry hit back, calling the checkpoint a gross violation of the Tripartite Declaration, “which is aimed at consistently implementing Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh and the complete annihilation of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“This, like previous similar actions by Azerbaijan, together with continued Armenophobia and threatening rhetoric, is aimed at derailing the negotiations on the document on the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan,” the report said. statement.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the State Department’s top deputy spokesman, Vedant Patel, said President Joe Biden’s administration was “deeply concerned” about the establishment of the checkpoint because it “undermines efforts to build confidence in the peace process.”
“We reiterate that there should be free and open movement of people and trade in the Lachine Corridor, so that the countries resume peace talks and refrain from provocations and hostile actions at the border,” he said. said
The checkpoint was set up after months of growing hostility between the two sides, resulting in casualties for both.
On Sunday, the Ministry of Defense of Armenia announced that at 11:50 a.m. Service member Artiom Poghosian was “mortally wounded” by Azerbaijani forces.