Nagorno-Karabakh gas pipeline damage: technical problems or Azerbaijani sabotage?
Nagorno-Karabakh is left without gas
The entire territory of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is deprived of gas. It is reported that since the night of March 8, at 01:00, the gas pipeline through which gas is supplied from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh has been damaged. The damaged section of the gas pipeline is located in the territory, which has returned under the control of Azerbaijan after the Karabakh war of 2020. This refers to the area from Shushi (Shusha) to Zariflu. So far, the Azerbaijani side has not allowed access to the accident site for restoration work. Meanwhile, sappers must first check and clear the territory before the restoration works can begin.
In connection with the cessation of gas supply to NK, humanitarian problems arose, difficulties with providing people with food – in particular, bread factories cannot work without gas.
Yerevan has not yet issued a statement about the accident at the gas pipeline and the situation in NK. The information comes from the State Emergency Service and the Ombudsman of Nagorno-Karabakh. Russian peacekeepers are participating in negotiations with the Azerbaijani side. At the same time, there are reports of intensive shelling by the Azerbaijani armed forces of four settlements in NK.
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“Azerbaijan deliberately impedes the restoration of the gas pipeline”
According to official data, about 110,000 people live in NK. 97% of the capital is gasified and most settlements are supplied with gas.
The Ombudsman of Nagorno-Karabakh reports that the Azerbaijani side has not allowed sappers to enter the damaged section of the gas pipeline. He believes that “obstruction of the resumption of gas supply is proof of the intention of the Azerbaijani side to create problems in the humanitarian sphere, to disrupt normal life here”.
According to him, the Azerbaijani side has not allowed either the specialists of the Artsakhgaz company or the law enforcement agencies of NK to visit the site of the accident.
“In this regard, there is still no clear information whether the accident occurred due to technical problems or the gas pipeline was blown up directly by the Azerbaijanis”, Gegham Stepanyan said in an interview with Radio Azatutyun (Liberty).
He said that negotiations are underway to start repairing the gas pipeline through the mediation of the Russian peacekeeping mission, which has been stationed there since the end of the war.
According to official information from the unrecognized republic, the accident occurred on a section of the gas pipeline located not far from Azerbaijani positions.
The National Security Service of the NKR reports that they are considering a deliberate undermining, sabotage by Azerbaijan as a possible explanation for the current events.
“There is a high probability that the gas pipeline was blown up by Azerbaijan”
According to Tigran Abrahamyan, a deputy from the opposition “I have the honor” faction of the Armenian parliament, it is highly likely that the gas pipeline was blown up by the Azerbaijani side:
“Given the fact that the pipeline in this area is controlled by Azerbaijani troops, a terrorist attack could have been committed on this section by Azerbaijan”.
The deputy has come to this conclusion amid the increased shelling of peaceful settlements of NK and other “provocations by Azerbaijan”. He recalls, in particular, the situation around the village of Khramort in the Askeran region (in Azerbaijan it is called Pirlyar).
Since February 24, Azerbaijani servicemen have been playing a recording in Armenian with a call to leave the village. The text, which is heard over the loudspeakers, is as follows:
“Quickly leave the area, otherwise we will force you to. All responsibility for the sacrifices will fall on you․ Don’t endanger your life and the lives of your loved ones”.
It is reported that on March 9, these threats were made again.
In addition, throughout the day, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces fired actively, including using mortars, in the direction of the villages of Hramort and Nakhichevanik of the Askeran region, the settlements of Khnushinak and Karmir Shuka (Red Bazaar) of the Martuni region, as well as adjacent roads.
The NK Prosecutor’s Office reports that in the current situation, “all possible measures are being taken to document the criminal actions of the Azerbaijani side and their consequences”.