What’s behind new gas outages in Karabakh: technical shutdown or sabotage?
The gas supply to Nagorno-Karabakh has once again stopped, the local information center reported about this in the evening of March 22. The entire territory of the unrecognized NKR has been deprived of gas since March 8. The gas pipeline, through which gas had been supplied there from Armenia, was damaged. The damaged section is located in the territory, which returned under the control of Azerbaijan after the Karabakh war of 2020. Azerbaijan did not allow access to the accident site. After 10 days of negotiations, Azerbaijan repaired the pipeline itself. Now NK reports that the gas is turned off. Presumably, during the repair, a valve was installed.
The danger of a humanitarian catastrophe arose again in connection with the cold weather that came in March. There are difficulties with the provision of food, because without gas, bakeries cannot work.
NK reports that about 110,000 people live there. The capital is 97% gasified, gas is also supplied to most settlements.
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“There is a reason to believe that valve has been installed”
The Information Headquarters of the NK issued a message stating that:
“We have sufficient grounds to assume that during the repair work on the gas pipeline blown up on March 8, the Azerbaijani side installed a valve, by means of which, a few hours ago, it stopped the gas supply. Azerbaijan uses unfavorable weather conditions for the implementation of the insidious goal of creating additional humanitarian problems”.
The command of the Russian peacekeeping forces, which are stationed there since the 2020 war, has also been informed about the situation. It is reported that the NK authorities, together with the peacekeepers, “are making appropriate efforts to restore the gas supply”.
The information headquarters urges people to save electricity in order to avoid overload and possible problems in the power supply system.
Alleged gas pipeline explosion
The Azerbaijani side did not allow Armenian specialists to the place 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 on purpose by the Azerbaijanis”, said Gegham Stepanyan, Ombudsman of the NK.
According to 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 reported that they considered it a deliberate undermining and sabotage by Azerbaijan.
Parliament of Armenia to discuss the situation
Discussions on the topic “Humanitarian situation in the Republic of Artsakh, threats, urgent actions” will be held at the initiative of the Hayastan (Armenia) opposition faction. Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan and Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan will address the meeting.
Acting Speaker Ruben Rubinyan suggested holding a closed session. The opposition insisted on an open discussion, as the issue is of wide interest. However, the ruling majority of parliament insisted on holding a closed session.
“The discussion of this issue may contain security issues related to Artsakh and Armenia, which we cannot discuss in an open mode,” said Hayk Konjoryan, head of the ruling faction.
Head of the Bright Armenia Party Edmon Marukyan wrote on his Facebook page:
“Gas terror against Artsakh or Russian peacekeepers? I have been looking for an answer to this question since yesterday.
According to the politician, this is “humanitarian terrorism”, and Azerbaijan’s actions complicate life and violate the rights of not only the residents of NK, but also the Russian peacekeepers stationed here. Edmon Marukyan believes that Azerbaijan’s actions undermine the authority of the peacekeepers, and Russia needs to “draw clear conclusions for itself in the context of the recently signed 43-point ‘union’ declaration with Azerbaijan”:
“The international community should strongly condemn this behavior by Azerbaijan towards the civilian population. […] Azerbaijan is working against itself because it is doing everything to prove to the international community that it will never be able to respect, much less ensure, even the fundamental rights of the people of Artsakh”.