Azerbaijan takes control of country roads in Karabakh
Azerbaijan controls country roads in Karabakh
The Azerbaijani army took control of dirt roads north of the Lachin corridor in the part of Karabakh where the Russian peacekeeping contingent is temporarily stationed. According to the Azerbaijani side, these roads served to transport weapons from Armenia to Khankendi (Stepanakert). The Armenian population of Karabakh claims that internal traffic with some nearby villages was achieved along these roads.
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On Saturday, March 25, the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan issued an urgent statement:
“… units of the Azerbaijani army carried out the necessary local control measures in order to prevent the use of dirt roads north of the Lachin road for illegal actions, aggravating the situation by transferring weapons and ammunition from Armenia and committing possible provocations.”
A similar statement was published by the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry.
“Over the past few days, technical surveillance equipment of the Azerbaijani army has been recording the intensification of illegal construction and repair work carried out by Armenians on the Khankendi-Khalfali-Turshsu road and the Khankendi-Kesalar-Mirzalar-Turshsu road passing north of this route.
These roads are also used to supply the combat positions of illegal Armenian armed groups. Despite numerous appeals from the Azerbaijani side and discussions held in this direction, no measures have yet been taken to prevent the transportation of ammunition and other military equipment.”
According to Russian peacekeepers, on March 25 the Azerbaijani Armed Forces occupied a height of 2054 m (2.9 km northeast of Mount Sarybaba) and equipped a post. This location is indicated on the attached map.
At this point three dirt roads converge which could bypass Shusha and reach the Lachin road.
According to experts, the Azerbaijani army thus managed to block not one but three roads at once, along which it was possible to bypass the Lachin road and pass to Armenia, bypassing Azerbaijani control.
In turn, the authorities of the unrecognized NKR admitted that a number of Armenian settlements in the Shusha region were cut off from Khankendi. They also noted that if communication is not restored, “the situation for Karabakh will become critical.”
According to the same sources, the peacekeepers stood next to the Azerbaijani military and “control the situation”, but the Russian peacekeepers themselves did not report anything about this.
This is also not visible in the video frames distributed by the Azerbaijani media. One can see that Azerbaijani and Armenian military personnel are standing face to face on the dirt road, and there are no peacekeepers nearby.
According to military observer Adalat Verdiyev, as a result of the operation Azerbaijani army units regained control over the Turshsu-Khalfali road without losses, along which “weapons were transported from Armenia to the territories under the control of the Russians”:
“Control over height 2054, just like the previously liberated heights of Farrukh, Gyrkhgyz, Sarybaba, will serve as an important support for subsequent operations to eliminate illegal armed groups in Karabakh.
As a result of this operation, the separatist regime is almost completely deprived of the possibility of obtaining weapons.”
Opposition politician and a leader of the Republican Alternative party Natik Jafarli believes that Azerbaijan’s main goal is to establish a border post at the entrance to the Lachin corridor from Armenia:
“Russia, Armenia and the whole world should be openly told: if you have no hidden intentions, if only civilians move along the Lachin corridor, only food and medicine are transported, then why can’t Azerbaijan establish a checkpoint on its border? Who can it harm?
But if you use this road to transport weapons and ammunition to arm terrorists, then we have every right to take such steps to ensure our security.
Statements by Russia and Armenia that this is not provided for by the agreement of November 10, 2020, are just empty words. If there is no such thing in the agreement, then it is regulated by the laws of Azerbaijan!
The country is not governed by the November 10 agreement, but by the Constitution of Azerbaijan, which clearly spells out the issue of border control.”
Political scientist and head of the Atlas analytical center Elkhan Shahinoglu believes that the latest operation of the Azerbaijani army in Karabakh has actualized the issue of the border checkpoint on the Lachin road:
“After the start of the action of Azerbaijani activists on the Lachin road, Armenia did not risk sending large volumes of weapons to the separatists in Karabakh. True, they could do this on the vehicles of Russian peacekeepers, but these risks were calculated.
For this reason, the transport of weapons and ammunition was being carried out through an alternative dirt road, again with the direct support of the RCC.
Now that the dirt roads are under the control of the Azerbaijani army, Armenia and Russia will try to transport weapons in the cargo compartments of peacekeepers’ vehicles. There are no other options left.
The only option to stop this illegal activity is to establish a checkpoint on the state border of Azerbaijan with Armenia at the very beginning of the Lachin corridor. And here the cars of not only Armenians, but Russian peacekeepers should be controlled.”