"It is impossible to abandon the idea of opening the Lachin corridor by force." Opinions from Yerevan
Open the Lachin corridor by force
Armenian analysts are discussing possible scenarios for unblocking the Lachin corridor, the only road linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. It is believed that the decision of the International Court of Justice “legitimized” Armenia’s right to open the Lachin corridor by force.
120,000 residents of the unrecognized NKR have been under blockade since December 2022. The humanitarian crisis is reported to be worsening every day. On February 22, 2023, the International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to ensure unhindered movement along the Lachin corridor. On June 6, the Hague court confirmed its verdict, according to which Azerbaijan is obliged to take all measures in its power to move people, vehicles and goods in both directions. The decision of the court is legally binding.
Since June 15, the inhabitants of NK have been under a strict blockade, Azerbaijan does not allow the supply of either food or medicines. In Armenia they are increasingly calling on international actors to “transfer from words to deeds, to stop the international crimes committed by Azerbaijan.”
“Both peaceful and forceful methods will have a short-term effect”
According to political scientist Harutyun Mkrtchyan, the Karabakh Armenians have two ways to resolve the situation. The first, according to him, is a peaceful way, in particular, the march of unarmed citizens to the Hakari bridge.
Residents of NK intend to hold a peaceful march and take buses to the Hakari bridge. To ensure the safety of the auto march, they sent a letter to Russian peacekeepers stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh.
In response, the deputy commander of the peacekeeping mission referred to a statement dated November 9, 2020, according to which there is no provision for “escorting vehicles by Russian peacekeeping troops in motorcades, as well as ensuring the security of various actions and rallies.”
The political scientist says that even this peaceful march can turn into an unwanted incident. But he notes that if nothing is done, the situation will worsen still more — up to the starvation of local residents. The second way to resolve the issue, according to Mkrtchyan, is militarily:
“The Artsakh side is destroying the checkpoint on the Khakari bridge, provoking military clashes and thereby attracting the attention of international actors.”
The political scientist believes that at the moment there is no alternative to such radical, non-standard actions:
“Either you take decisive action to somehow influence the situation, or you just put up with all this and cherish the hope that at some point the Azerbaijani side will open a “humanitarian” corridor for you, through which you will leave your homeland.”
He says that in parallel with the actions to unblock the Lachin corridor, with a difference of minutes, it is necessary to express no confidence in the Russian peacekeeping contingent. At the same time, “their inaction, and in some cases aiding the Azerbaijanis” should be emphasized.
Mkrtchyan warns that both peaceful and forceful methods will only have a short-term effect:
“And in the long term, the Artsakh side should strive to replace the Russian peacekeeping contingent with a new mission [of another country].”
“The forceful method is a manifestation of political subjectivity”
The representative of the educational, military-patriotic NGO “Berd” Arpi Topchyan also considers the use of force as an opportunity to break through the blockade. According to her, “Armenia’s right to open a corridor in any way is legitimized” by appeals to Azerbaijan by various countries, international structures and a binding decision of the International Court of Justice.
“Many people say that if the Lachin corridor is opened by military means, this will be the reason for the start of large-scale hostilities. No one excludes such an option, but this does not mean that we should abandon the solution by force.”
She emphasizes that Armenia has a court decision and the right to apply it. Consequently, if the Armenian side uses force to unblock the corridor, “Azerbaijan will think for a long time whether to start large-scale military operations or not.”
She considers it important not so much to carry out a military operation by Armenia as to “demonstrate force”:
“The Armenian state will show that by one mechanism or another it will protect the rights of its compatriots. This will mean the return to the table of political processes, the manifestation of political subjectivity. And this will make the country interesting for external players as well.”
According to the expert, the main reason for “the catastrophic situation is that Armenia deliberately renounced the status of a political subject.”
Open the Lachin corridor by force