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‘A gesture of moral support’: US Senate hearing on ‘assessing the NK crisis’

Hearings on Nagorno-Karabakh in the US Senate

“The United States will not tolerate any attempt at ethnic cleansing against Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians, military action, or other atrocities, whether in the short or long term,” Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Yuri Kim said.

At a U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on “Assessing the Nagorno-Karabakh Crisis,” Kim called on the Azerbaijani government to unblock the Lachin corridor.

According to political scientist Suren Surenyants, if the U.S. wants to play a decisive role in the current situation, it should take two steps: stop providing military aid to Azerbaijan and impose sanctions on Baku.

Earlier, on September 6, the US Congress Human Rights Committee held hearings on the crisis situation in the unrecognized NKR. The former prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Luis Moreno Ocampo also spoke, once again calling what is happening a genocide.

“We keep saying that we need to open the Lachin corridor”

Yuri Kim: “We keep saying that we need to open the Lachin corridor for the movement of commercial, humanitarian transport and private cars.” She called on Baku to restore free movement along the Lachin corridor as soon as possible, but added:

“The U.S. recognizes the importance of additional routes. We must continue to encourage all sides to work constructively.”

Kim said the U.S. administration is concerned about the blockage of the Lachin corridor and its implications for NK Armenians. Reported that intensive work has been underway for several months to address the humanitarian crisis with Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Senior Advisor for Caucasus Negotiations Louis Bono and USAID partners.

“Louis Bono is back in the region to push for the immediate delivery of supplies to Nagorno-Karabakh,” she said.

“We’ve got a few weeks.”

Senate Foreign Policy Committee Chairman Bob Menendez quoted part of a report by former International Criminal Court prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo that said, “Starvation is the invisible weapon of genocide. Without immediate drastic changes, this group of Armenians will be wiped out within weeks.” Menendez continued:

“Time is of the essence. President Aliyev says he is not organizing ethnic cleansing. But that is exactly what he is doing.”

According to the senator, Aliyev’s goal is to “force Armenians to submit or starve them into submission.” He appealed to the Biden administration to “eliminate the blockade, threats to the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, and immediately open the Lachin corridor.” He expressed hope that opportunities would be found to alleviate the humanitarian crisis and measures that could force Baku authorities to unblock the road connecting NK territory with Armenia.

“And why are we no longer publicly discussing sanctions for actions that I think we can all agree are clearly worthy of punishment,” he said.

Talking about the Armenian-Azerbaijani talks and the U.S. mediation of that dialog, he said:

“The reality is this: talk is useless when one side of these talks is engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing.”

U.S. Senate Hearings


Political scientist Suren Surenyants says that there is a decision of the Hague Court obliging Azerbaijan to unblock the Lachin corridor, which Azerbaijan is ignoring:

“If no coercive measures are applied, the Senate hearings can be considered only as a gesture of moral support.”

He believes that holding these hearings is a very important step in itself, but “cannot have a significant impact on the situation”.

Asked “what is the reason for Western countries not applying sanctions against Baku – the common interest or Yerevan’s inaction,” he replied:

“There is a geopolitical consensus on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue in general, despite the contradictions of all sides. Their disputes concern who should be the moderator of the region, but they have no serious disagreements on substantive issues.”

Surenyants says that when the Russian Federation sent humanitarian aid for Armenians under blockade via the Agdam route, i.e. through the territory of Azerbaijan, the European Union welcomed this step:

“Azerbaijan is a much more important partner than Armenia at the moment, both for the West and for Russia. I don’t think any country in the world will stand together with Armenia against Azerbaijan, especially because of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. I think such a scenario is impossible.”

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Hearings on Nagorno-Karabakh in the US Senate

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