US Assistant Secretary of State Karen Donfried is interviewed by RFE / RL in Yerevan, June 18, 2022

US Concerned About Azeri ‘Military Movements’ in Karabakh

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YEREVAN (Azatutyun) — The United States has expressed concern about Azerbaijan’s weekend “military movements” that further tightened its blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh’s land link with Armenia.

Azerbaijani troops seized on Saturday, March 25, a hill overlooking a dirt road that bypasses a section of the Lachin corridor blocked by Baku for more than three months.

Karen Donfried, the outgoing US assistant secretary of state for Europe and Eurasia, appeared to have discussed the development with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov in a phone call on Monday, March 27. The US State Department said she “expressed concern over Azerbaijani military movements.”

The Azerbaijani military claimed that it took “necessary measures” to stop Armenia’s arms supplies to Karabakh.

The Armenian government and Karabakh’s leadership have flatly denied such supplies repeatedly alleged by Baku in recent weeks. They say that the Azerbaijani advance in Karabakh constitutes a serious breach of the Russian-brokered that stopped the 2020 war.

The Russian Defense Ministry also accused Azerbaijan of violating the ceasefire. It said later on Saturday that Russian peacekeepers demanded that the Azerbaijani troops return to “their previously occupied positions.” Baku has ignored the demand so far.

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A State Department spokesman, Vedant Patel, said Donfried also reaffirmed Washington’s “commitment to Armenia-Azerbaijan peace negotiations” and called for “direct dialogue” between the conflicting parties.

“There is not a military solution to this conflict,” Patel told a news briefing in Washington.

According to the Azerbaijani readout of the phone call, Bayramov accused Armenia of adopting an “unconstructive position” in ongoing negotiations on an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace treaty.

The United States has repeatedly called on the Azerbaijani side to lift the blockade that has caused a serious humanitarian crisis in Karabakh. The US ambassador to Armenia, Kristina Kvien, made a point of visiting an Armenian border checkpoint leading to the Lachin corridor earlier this month. Another senior US diplomat made it clear, however, that Washington is not considering imposing sanctions on Baku because of the blockade.

 

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