After three-month blockade, RSF urges Azerbaijan and Russian peacekeepers to let reporters visit Nagorno-Karabakh

The Lachin corridor linking Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist enclave in neighbouring Azerbaijan with a mainly Armenian population, will have been blocked for three months on 12 March. Reporters Without Borders (RSF) calls on the Azerbaijani authorities and Russian peacekeepers to allow reporters freedom of movement so that they can cover this blockade and its serious humanitarian impact.

Nagorno-Karabakh is turning into a news and information black hole because purported Azerbaijani environmental activists have been blocking all traffic along the Lachin corridor, the only road linking Armenia to the enclave, for the past three months, thereby causing a major humanitarian crisis. Only Azerbaijani journalists from state or pro-government media can cover the demonstrations on the corridor. The few independent local media are not allowed through the checkpoints.

The few journalists who have been escorted to the point where the road is blocked have not been able to report freely. When David López Frías, a reporter for the Spanish newspaper El Periódico de España, visited Azerbaijan in late February, he spent an evening on the Lachin road accompanied by “guides” from Azerbaijan’s state-owned Global Media Group, who let him interview the protesting "environmentalists” without any problem, but not any Russian peacekeepers. It was not possible either to meet with any members of the Armenian population, on the other side of the Russian checkpoints.

Futhermore, the Azerbaijani state news agency Azertac published an interview with López in several languages in which he was deliberately misquoted. It quoted him as saying: Vehicles pass here without any problems. You just see people demonstrating to protect nature.” When RSF contacted López, he said: “I said the exact opposite. I clearly saw a blocked road.”

“This barefaced lie by a government-controlled media outlet is further evidence of a desire on the part of the Azerbaijani authorities to manipulate national and international public opinion. They not only violate the 2020 ceasefire agreement by supporting these ‘eco-activists’ but they also prevent any accurate coverage of the Lachin corridor blockade and its terrible humanitarian repercussions. RSF reminds the Azerbaijani government and Russian peacekeepers of their international undertakings and urges them to restore free access to the region for journalists.

Jeanne Cavelier
Head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk

On the Armenian side, independent media have no access to the corridor or the enclave, and rely on photos and video provided the Azerbaijani state media and the local TV channel in Nagorno-Karabakh, and on what residents say, which is often hard to verify. Few media outlets have correspondents in the enclave. The news site Civilnet has a bureau with four journalists in Stepanakert, the enclave’s capital, but no other independent media outlet does.

Conversely, Azerbaijani journalists wishing to travel to the Nakhchivan autonomous republic, located southwest of Armenian territory, are forced to bypass Armenia via Iran or to fly there. No agreement has been reached between the two sides since the 2020 ceasefire to open a corridor directly linking this region to Azerbaijan.

This is by no means the first time reporters have had difficulty moving about in the enclave, which was the subject of fierce fighting in September 2020 and where deadly skirmishes are still common.

The purported purpose of the blocking of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijani “eco-activists” since 12 December is to prevent work at a gold mine. But many investigations point to the Azerbaijani government’s total involvement in the blockade. Several international actors have blamed President Ilham Aliyev’s government and the International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to remove the blockade. Only Red Cross humanitarian convoys are currently allowed through the corridor.

Geopolitical transformation in the South Caucasus

Geopolitical Intelligence Services

Turkey-allied Azerbaijan is seeking dominance over Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh and two key land corridors. Russia and Iran may stand in the way.

  • The conflicts highlight Russia’s weakened influence in the region
  • The Lachin and Zangezur corridors are vital routes for Azerbaijan
  • Armenia is counting on Russia and Iran to thwart Baku’s aims

On January 23, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a seemingly innocuous request to Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev: Lift the blockade from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh, the ethnically Armenian exclave inside Azerbaijan.

There were humanitarian reasons for this plea. For the 120,000 ethnic Armenians trapped inside the region, the Azeri blockade has resulted in shortages of food, gas and electricity, plus disruptions of internet services. The causes, which began on December 12, seem rather minor – environmental activists demanding the right to monitor alleged illegal mining operations in Nagorno-Karabakh.

Known as the Lachin corridor, the road connecting Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh is nominally under the control of Russian peacekeeping forces. As agreed in an armistice deal brokered by Russia in November 2020, it should be open for commercial traffic. According to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, it is not open. In a separate conversation with Secretary Blinken, he voiced concern about the humanitarian consequences.

Casual observation may suggest this is a tempest in a teapot. Not so. It is a warning sign of an underlying conflict that already reaches far outside the region.

The driving force is the weakened position of Russia, a direct consequence of its brutal war against Ukraine. As the Kremlin no longer has either the clout or credibility to enforce its version of order in the South Caucasus, or indeed in Central Asia, regional actors are raising the stakes in their own games for influence.

The most immediate consequence is to scupper any hopes of a peace settlement between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Political developments will be marked by the threat of a resumed military offensive by Azerbaijan, which would be supported by Turkey and deeply resented by Iran. The outcome will be a geopolitical transformation of the South Caucasus, which will shape transport infrastructure through the region.

War between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been going on sporadically since the early 1990s. When the first phase concluded, in May 1994, large swaths of Azeri territory were occupied by Armenian forces. Nagorno-Karabakh was de facto incorporated into Armenia. The local leadership in Stepanakert proclaimed a Republic of Artsakh that was not recognized even by Armenia. It was the first in a series of “frozen conflicts” in post-Soviet space.

From 1994 onwards, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe maintained a mission to broker a solution, but its struggles served mainly to reflect the marginal influence of international organizations. What kept the conflict frozen was Russian military clout. Although nominally on the side of Armenia, Moscow sought to maximize its influence by supplying arms to both sides.

The balance shifted in September 2020, when Azerbaijan launched an armed invasion to reclaim Armenian-occupied territories. The action had been in the cards for some time after Baku used its oil wealth to beef up its military. The novelty in its bid was that it had found new and more reliable allies. It secured advanced weaponry from Israel and received much support from Turkey, including the Bayraktar drones that would become famous in the war in Ukraine. The outcome was a rout of the Armenian forces.

By making life difficult for the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku hopes to achieve three goals.

On November 10, following six weeks of intense fighting, the Kremlin managed to secure an armistice. It had three important features, the consequences of which are now being played out. The first was that it preserved Armenian control over much of Nagorno-Karabakh, unacceptable to Azerbaijan. The second was that it stipulated the creation of two important corridors – the Lachin corridor, providing a lifeline for ethnic Armenians left inside landlocked Nagorno-Karabakh; and the Zangezur corridor, to provide a link from Azerbaijan across Armenian territory to Baku’s Nakhichevan exclave. The third was that Russia received a five-year mandate to deploy about 2,000 peacekeepers.

The current blockade drives home that Russia is too weak to police the agreement, and it suggests an obvious Azeri game plan. By making life difficult for the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh, Baku hopes to achieve three goals. One is to force the leadership in Nagorno-Karabakh into submission. The second is to force Armenia into accepting an opening of the Zangezur corridor and the third is to compel the Russian peacekeepers to withdraw.

Baku is emboldened by the fact that Armenia has been denied support from the Russia-led Common Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), of which it is the only member in the region. The Russian response to its appeal for help was that the 2020 invasion was not an attack on Armenia but merely on the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh. The CSTO has since been cold-shouldered both by Kyrgyzstan, which canceled planned drills in its country and Armenia, which has said it sees no point in hosting drills planned for this year.

The demise of the CSTO into near irrelevance is a powerful symptom of Russian weakness. The vacuum left behind will be filled by two competing alliances, an ascendant one between Turkey and Azerbaijan and the other between Russia and Iran.

Although Azerbaijan’s struggle to reclaim control over Nagorno-Karabakh is partly a nationalist cause, it boils down to securing the Zangezur corridor. The main impact of Armenia’s seizure of large swaths of Azeri territory was to interdict a vital Soviet-era transport corridor. Drawn along the Caspian Sea, it ran from Russia to the south of Azerbaijan where it turned west to Turkey and Armenia, hugging the border with Iran. Having ended up in a war zone, it could no longer be used, and rapidly fell into disrepair.

Turkey consequently became dependent on Iran for transport to Central Asia, a situation marked by increasing conflict, ranging from raised transit fees to harassment of Turkish truck drivers. Ankara is presently keen on promoting a peace deal between Armenia and Azerbaijan that would feature a reopening of its former direct link to Central Asia.

But Armenia has found ample reason to drag its feet. It opposes the proposed extraterritoriality of the Zangezur corridor, concerned that it would run along the border with Iran. The arrangement would block vital access to a friendly neighbor and risk placing the management of critical water resources from the Aras River basin in the hands of Azerbaijan.

The bulk of Armenia’s border in the south is with Turkey and with the Nakhichevan exclave. There are only two small stretches that offer passage into Iran, one of which is between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. If the Zangezur corridor becomes reality, the only remaining lifeline to Iran would be a small stretch between Nakhichevan and Turkey.

Baku has grown increasingly insistent that a peace deal must be consummated, and that work must begin on getting the Zangezur corridor operational. On January 10, President Aliyev accused Armenia of reneging on its obligation, ominously noting that “whether Armenia wants it or not, it will be implemented.” Although he was careful to add that Azerbaijan has no intention to launch another war, the implied threat was clear.

The outcome if Turkey and Azerbaijan emerge as winners would be infrastructure investment that is geared toward providing energy from Central Asia and the Caspian basin into Europe.

What may still serve to thwart Turkish-Azeri ambitions is the deepening link between Russia and Iran. Deliveries of Iranian Shahed drones have already been helpful to Russia’s war against Ukraine. If cooperation is extended further, it could have consequences far outside the region. Reports have suggested that Iran may deliver ballistic missiles in return for advanced Russian fighter jets and possibly even help in completing its nuclear weapons program.

Armenia has every reason to bank on this alliance. Aside from Russia, which has played both sides, Iran has been its only friend. It has long provided energy and other critical supplies via roads across the common border, and its motivation for providing such support is reliable self-interest.

Iran is concerned about the implications for its own security from a peace treaty that allows the Zangezur corridor to be launched. There are more than 20 million ethnic Azeris living in Iran, mainly in the north, and it is no secret that any Israeli attack on Iran would be supported by Baku. Such concern has been augmented by Azeribaijan’s recent decision to open an embassy in Israel.

In the runup to the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Iranian army conducted drills along the Aras River, which separates the two countries. Those drills included a simulated building of temporary bridges, implicitly threatening an armed invasion. An Iranian Azeri-language broadcaster warned that “anyone who looks at Iran the wrong way must be destroyed.”

Azerbaijan countered with drills of its own that featured participation by Turkish armed forces. The Azeri press also reported that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) had provided vital military supplies to Armenia and sent military advisors to Armenian forces inside Nagorno-Karabakh. Although the veracity of the claims may be disputed, the conflict is heating up. After its military exercises along the Aras, Iran upped the ante even further by opening a consular office in Kapan, located in Armenia’s southern Syunik province, through which the Zangezur corridor would be drawn.

Iranian fears of closer relations between Israel and Azerbaijan were enhanced by the bombing campaign that struck several Iranian cities on the night of January 29. Presumably orchestrated by Israel, it targeted vital military and industrial sites, including the headquarters of the IRGC. Although it is unclear what the main objective was, it sent a powerful message of Iranian vulnerability.

Developments can move in two very different directions in this geopolitical transformation of the South Caucasus. One features a stalemate in the war in Ukraine, a gradual recovery of Russian strength and a deepening relationship between Moscow and Tehran. The outcome would be to counter the growing influence of Azerbaijan. Russian peacekeepers would reassert control over the Lachin corridor. Iran would begin sales of weapons to Armenia, notably the Shahed-136 drones, and the Zangezur corridor would be stalled. The longer-term investment would be aimed at promoting the north-south transport corridor that has long been favored by Russia and Iran.

The alternative scenario features a defeat for Russia in Ukraine and effective sanctions against Iranian exports of weapons. This would embolden Azerbaijan and Turkey to push through the Zangezur corridor, to further erode Russian influence in the South Caucasus and to shut Iran out of the region. It is worth remembering that during the 44-day war in 2020, Azerbaijan not only shelled targets in Nagorno-Karabakh but also targets inside Armenia proper. It remains in a position to do so again, and Russia may be too weak to prevent it.

The outcome if Turkey and Azerbaijan emerge as winners would be infrastructure investment that is geared toward providing energy from Central Asia and the Caspian basin into Europe. There would be many winners. Turkey is only too happy to become a major energy hub. The European Union has already courted Baku for gas while dialing back criticism of Azeri human rights abuses. And the U.S. would be happy to see Russia pushed out. It does look like the most likely outcome.

How a Milford man came to compose ‘An Armenian Trilogy’ on Bacharach’s piano

Hometown Life
Susan Bromley

What do a Milford man, Armenian genocide and Burt Bacharach’s piano have in common?

They are all crucial elements in the making of "An Armenian Trilogy," a PBS documentary premiering at 7:30 p.m., March 12 on Channel 56, Detroit Public TV.

Here’s a preview of what you will see — and hear — when tuning in on Sunday or streaming at your leisure following the special’s debut.

Yessian, 78, is a Milford resident who took an unconventional path to becoming a success, composing award-winning music for television, movies, theme parks, Fortune 500 companies and memorials including the One World Observatory in New York City.

Yessian Music has an office in New York City, as well as Los Angeles and Hamburg, Germany, but the company is based in Farmington Hills. It got its start in 1971 when Yessian risked disappointing his parents and gave up a teaching career after only four years to compose music that to this day he is unable to read or write.

“I don’t read or write music, I play music,” said Yessian, who had lessons in clarinet and saxophone as a child, but played by ear. He later did the same with the piano. “What I had to do producing music — I would tell them (instrumentalists) what I want to hear—chords I wanted… For many years, I didn’t know where middle C was on the piano. Somehow or other, I banged out a career doing it this way.”

The 22-minute symphony Yessian composed at the request of his church priest in 2014 was a three-year project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. In this horrific event, 1.5 million Armenian citizens were massacred by the Ottoman Empire, in an act Yessian said was not unlike the Holocaust.

“There were no ovens to destroy them," he said, "but the Armenians were forced to march through the desert until they dropped dead.”

Yessian completed a symphony with three movements, “The Freedom,” “The Fear” and “The Faith.”

With little patience for historical data, he sought to convey in his music the emotions the Armenian people felt.

“We are supposed to learn from history, but that doesn’t seem to happen,” Yessian, who is of Armenian descent, said. “The thought was, ‘Let me lay this out, so people might understand what they are going through.’”

Bacharach, who died last month after a lifetime of fame composing such popular hits as “Rain Drops Keep Fallin’ on My Head,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “What the World Needs Now is Love” was a musical hero for Yessian.

So much so, that Yessian purchased one of Bacharach’s pianos during a 2005 charity auction. Bacharach signed the instrument and added a message: “I wrote a lot of good music on this piano.”

He also wrote a letter of authenticity to Yessian, in which he mentions that he had bought the piano in 1959 and it had stayed at the home of his former wife, actress Angie Dickinson, for many years.

Yessian recalled that when he asked Dickinson if he could buy the piano's bench, she declined, telling him, “No, that is where Burt’s butt was.”

No matter. Yessian found a bench and has composed much of his own music on the Bacharach piano, including “An Armenian Trilogy.”

“The documentary takes you from the beginnings of a budding clarinetist and saxophonist through a progression of time that leads up to what I would suggest would be my legacy now, which is the 'Armenian Trilogy,'” Yessian said. “It’s important to know where we’ve been and where we’re going. … There is something about music that creates emotion and that was my aim through all of this.”

Learn more at

Contact reporter Susan Bromley at [email protected] or 517-281-2412. Follow her on Twitter @SusanBromley10.

TASS: Armenia announced the refusal of its quota for the position of Deputy Secretary General of the CSTO

It should be noted that this is far from the first demarche on the part of Armenia both to the CSTO and Russia. Earlier, Yerevan refused to conduct CSTO exercises on its territory.

In addition, the Armenian Foreign Minister did not arrive at a prearranged meeting in Moscow with his counterparts from Russia and Azerbaijan.

Armenia also blocked the entry of some Russian citizens into its territory.

Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened fire towards Armenian positions
Armenia – March 9 2023

On March 9, at around 5:50 p.m., the units of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces opened fire from different caliber firearms towards the Armenian combat positions located in the direction of Verin Shorzha.

Armenian Defence Minister reports that, there are no casualties from the Armenian side.  As of 8:00 p.m., the situation on the frontline is relatively stable.

Lachin Corridor Theme: The Munich Security Conference and the International Court of Justice

Feb 26 2023
The Munich Security Conference included a meeting between US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Nikol Pashinyan and Ilham Aliyev respectively, as well as the panel discussion "Moving Mountains."

The US Secretary of State hopes for a solution…

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken's hope that his meeting with Pashinyan and Aliyev – "a historic opportunity to ensure lasting peace after more than 30 years of conflict" – would become a reality, it would seem, and instilled some cautious optimism in the progress of the negotiation process of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

This is especially the case since after the meeting he noted "significant the progress made by both sides over the past few months on the way to a peace agreement." However, he did not disclose what this "progress" is.

In addition, following the meeting, Ilham Aliyev said that "there is progress in Armenia's position, but it is not sufficient." It must be assumed that Azerbaijan intends to continue the pressure, including through the blockade of the Lachin corridor.

Long-term experience shows that the President of Azerbaijan almost never complied with the agreements – there is a lot of evidence for this: the 4-day war of 2016, Azerbaijan's attack on Nagorno-Karabakh in 2020, as well as a large-scale attack on Armenia in September 2022. (Not counting the violation of the sovereign territory of Armenia in 2021 on the Sotk-Khoznavar line).

In addition, a map from the Azerbaijani military unit has recently appeared, according to which Azerbaijan plans to seize the Armenian regions of Syunik, Vayots Dzor, Tavush, half of Gegharkunik region and part of Ararat.

The blockade of the Lachin corridor…

During a panel discussion on security issues in the South Caucasus, Ilham Aliyev claimed that Azerbaijan is not blocking the Lachin humanitarian corridor. However, if Aliyev is telling the truth, then why does the European Parliament adopt a resolution demanding that Baku unblock it?

It will be said in place that dozens of Western countries are making similar demands, let's take the same Secretary of State Blinken, who at a meeting with the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan stated the need for free and open commercial and private transit through the Lachin corridor.

"The President of Azerbaijan noted the statement of 2020, in which it is written that the Lachin corridor should operate under the control of Russia. Several children tried to drive along the Lachin corridor. They were stopped by masked Azerbaijani citizens, their bus was invaded, the children were scared, and this was the last time civilians tried to use the road," Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan recalled.

The Lachin corridor has remained blocked for more than 70 days, putting Nagorno-Karabakh in a humanitarian and energy crisis. The supply of electricity and gas is intermittent. During these days, the gas supply (via the Armenia-Nagorno-Karabakh gas pipeline) has been turned off at least 10 times, and the power grid cannot withstand loads, since the air temperature is below 0, and people are forced to heat their homes with electric stoves.

Moreover, it turned out that by resuming the activities of the gas pipeline, Azerbaijan, to put it politely, "borrows" gas intended for Nagorno-Karabakh.

The blockade itself means the conduct of military operations. Continuing the war, Baku is trying to get concessions from Yerevan on the regime of the road that will connect Azerbaijan with the exclave of Nakhichevan.

This theory is supported by the statements of Ilham Aliyev himself, who, at the end of the Pashinyan-Blinken-Aliyev meeting, said that it was necessary to establish a checkpoint.

"If we talk about the delimitation of the border, checkpoints should be installed both at both ends of the Zangezur corridor and on the border between Lachin and Armenia."

However, in the trilateral statement of the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan dated November 9, 2020, there is not a word about anything like this.

But it is noted: "The Lachin corridor (5 km wide), which will provide a link between Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia and will not affect the city of Shusha, remains under the control of the peacekeeping contingent of the Russian Federation."

In this regard, a more prosaic question arises: what are the Azerbaijani military and pseudo-ecologists doing there for more than 70 days?

Moreover, today the International Court of Justice took interim measures against Azerbaijan, obliging it to provide all the means at its disposal to ensure the transportation of people and goods in two directions along the Lachin corridor.

At the same time, the same court rejected Azerbaijan's claims against Armenia.

Nagorno-Karabakh exists…

Another incident is that for more than 3 years, Ilham Aliyev has been trying to convince the world that "there is no Karabakh,""there is no Karabakh problem."

At various venues, the President of Azerbaijan pushes the thesis that he started the 2020 war against Nagorno-Karabakh "in compliance with UN Security Council resolutions"!

However, four UN Security Council resolutions demanded that Azerbaijan cease hostilities, but Azerbaijan itself continued the war. In addition, it is not entirely clear how the UN Security Council resolutions relate to periodic attacks on the sovereign territories of Armenia after 2020 and the blockade of the Lachin corridor.

And what about the statement of November 9, 2020? It mentions "Nagorno-Karabakh" as many as four times?!

It is noteworthy that the moderator of the panel discussion in Azerbaijan was accused of bias: "Aliyev said that there is no such thing as "Nagorno-Karabakh" and asked to respect the sovereignty and laws of Azerbaijan.

Pashinyan replied that Aliyev himself signed a document on November 9/10, which refers to "Nagorno-Karabakh". The moderator did not give the floor to Aliyev, but moved on to questions from the audience, and soon the broadcast was completely interrupted."

And the OSCE Minsk Group exists, no matter how Ilham Aliyev denies it and no matter how sad it may sound for those who want to bury it.

"The OSCE Minsk Group has not been dissolved yet, it exists, it does not work together, that is, the three Co-Chairs do not work together, but for us, as co-chairs of the Minsk Group, our mission always exists, which means to continue working on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue," said Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of France to Armenia Anne Louillot.

Ilham Aliyev and his arithmetic…

Another strange statement by the President of Azerbaijan concerned the religious aspect, or rather the mosques in Nagorno-Karabakh.

"Armenians destroyed 67 mosques in Artsakh," Aliyev said in Munich.

But in November 2015, at the opening of the XII session of the ISESCO General Conference, he claimed that "Armenians destroyed 10 mosques."

Advisor to the State Minister of Artsakh Artak Beglaryan notes that the official documents of the Soviet-Azerbaijani government indicated that only 17 mosques were located in the territories under the control of Artsakh.

"We deliberately did not destroy a single mosque, even the Shusha Mosque was restored and, like the churches, preserved as much as we could," he said.

But mosques, churches, synagogues were destroyed by thousands during the Soviet era. Including Azerbaijan and including when Ilham Aliyev's father, Heydar Aliyev, was the head of the Azerbaijan SSR.

Another thing is that Aliyev Jr. is trying to give the Azerbaijani-Artsakh conflict a religious character and turn Muslim countries against the Armenian people. However, he did not particularly succeed in this, because his arguments are not supported by accurate factual evidence.

Democracy is like a nightmare

In conclusion, it should be noted that in addition to all this, the segment of Nikol Pashinyan's speech about democracy was a heavy blow for Ilham Aliyev. As soon as the Armenian Prime Minister started talking about democratic and open elections, Azerbaijan's state TV interrupted the broadcast from Munich, turning on a political talk show.

I wonder what Aliyev was more afraid of – that Azerbaijanis would find out that there are democratic elections in the world, or that the Armenian leader was calmly talking about this topic?

In this context, the phrase with which the host of the Azerbaijani talk show began his program is even more remarkable: "There was nothing new on the panel this year."

By Editor-in-Chief “Respublica Armenia” newspaper Ararat Petrosyan.

Nearly 50 foreigners evacuated by Russian peacekeepers from Nagorno-Karabakh

Russia – Feb 26 2023
Among them are six children

MOSCOW, February 26. /TASS/. Russian peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh have evacuated 49 foreigners, including six children, to Armenia, the Russian defense ministry said on Sunday.

"Russian peacekeepers have evacuated 49 foreign nationals (including six children) from the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia," it said, adding that no ceasefire violations were reported during the past day.

According to the ministry, permanent contact is maintained with the General Command of the Azerbaijani and Armenian armed forces to ensure security of the Russian peacekeepers.

Food: Mini Kabob Glendale California – Home-style Armenian Kabobs

Feb 21 2023

Mini Kabob is a small mom-and-pop Armenian restaurant located in the heart of Glendale, California.

In 2021, Mini Kabob made it on the New York Time’s list of Best Restaurants in America. They’ve been featured many times in the press because of their delicious home-style Armenian fare.

The restaurant was first founded by a Persian American who owned the mechanic shop behind the building. His goal was to fulfill his craving for traditional mini ground beef kabobs served in Amernian lavash (thin flatbread).

In 1995, current owners Ovakim Martirosyan and his wife, Alvard Martirosyan, bought this business and never looked back. This couple works with their son, Armen, to create delicious, fresh kabobs daily. This family is welcoming and friendly offering home-style Armenian fare for customers.

While the interior of this no-frills joint is small, that’s only because all of the emphasis is on the food, making this a popular spot for takeout.

Guests particularly enjoy the tantalizing aromas as soon as they walk in.

They serve up quality meat such as ground beef/chicken; beef/chicken cutlet; beef shish pieces; chicken breast and thigh skewers; French cut lamb chops; falafel plates, and of course mini kabobs. They also offer homemade Egyptian style hummus, eggplant caviar, and cucumber yogurt. 

When I got to Mini Kabob, Armen was at the counter and I told him it was our first time visiting. He asked for how many people (including kids) and I told him 4. He put together a variety of items for us to try and it came out to be around $70 (paid in cash).

We got an assortment of ground beef lule kabob; ground beef shish kabob; chicken thigh kabob; pork shish kabob; chicken breast shish kabob as well as fire-roasted jalapeños and tomatoes, hummus, onions with parsley, and rice.

The meats were so juicy, tasty and flavorful with spices.

There was also homemade Egyptian style hummus with a drizzle of lemon, oil and a sprinkle of red pepper.

We also tried the homemade fresh yogurt and cucumber mixed with a dash of dry mint.

The Greek salad featured fresh feta cheese with black olives on a bed of romaine lettuce, cucumber, and tomatoes, with red wine vinaigrette.

The charred vegetables were a nice touch.

They’re a busy spot so try to order ahead if you can. Can’t recommend them enough!

Why Ukraine Supports Azerbaijan on Nagorno-Karabakh

Feb 21 2023

For over two decades, Ukraine has firmly stood by Azerbaijan in order to highlight the importance of preserving internationally recognized borders in the post-Soviet space.

by David Kirichenko
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict presents a diplomatic challenge for Ukraine as it seeks to balance its interests with its foreign policy priorities. Ukraine views conflicts in the post-Soviet space as remnants of the Soviet era, and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is no exception. However, the conflict also serves as a reminder of Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia due to Russia’s repeated attempts to attack Ukraine’s sovereignty and borders. Therefore, Ukraine has been interested in supporting the preservation of Azerbaijan’s internationally recognized borders since 1991.

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as the Artsakh conflict, arose after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Nagorno-Karabakh is an ethnic Armenian-majority region located within the borders of Azerbaijan. Ethnic Armenian forces in Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991, leading to a full-scale war between the two sides. A ceasefire was signed in 1994, but the conflict was never fully resolved, and tensions have remained high between the two sides.

The 2020 fighting saw Azerbaijan launch a military offensive to retake control of Nagorno-Karabakh with Turkish support. Ethnic Armenian forces could not hold off the Azerbaijan military, and Azerbaijan made significant gains in the region. A Russia-brokered ceasefire was signed in November 2020, but Azerbaijan had already secured control of much of Nagorno-Karabakh. 

The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh resulted in significant casualties on both sides and displaced thousands of ethnic Armenians from the region. The conflict has also had broader regional implications, with Turkey’s involvement raising tensions with Russia. The resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains an ongoing issue, with ongoing negotiations and efforts to find a lasting peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Ukraine’s ongoing war with Russia, and the annexation of Crimea, has made Kyiv’s position on preserving the territorial integrity of neighboring states even more crucial. For over two decades, Ukraine has firmly stood by Azerbaijan in support of its territorial integrity and sovereignty. This unwavering stance, which has become more robust and consistent since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2014, is a reflection of Ukraine’s understanding of the importance of preserving internationally recognized borders in the post-Soviet space.

Furthermore, Ukraine’s refusal to recognize self-proclaimed states, such as Kosovo, is a strategic move aimed at protecting its own sovereignty and territorial integrity, given Russia’s repeated attempts to invade Ukraine’s borders.

Regarding any international conflict, Ukraine abides by the principle of territorial integrity. Most Ukrainian politicians and experts support this approach, which is reflected in Ukraine’s 2020 national security strategy, which declared Azerbaijan a strategic partner on par with Poland, Lithuania, and Georgia. Turkey, which is actively participating in the current conflict on Azerbaijan’s side, also has a strategic partnership with Ukraine.

In contrast, Armenia, a member of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), has traditionally supported Russia in all votes on issues related to Crimea and Donbas. On the other hand, Azerbaijan has consistently voted in favor of Ukraine.

Given its foreign policy priorities and ongoing conflict with Russia, Ukraine has expressed support for Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and sovereignty in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for dialogue between Azerbaijan and Armenia and highlighted the “privileged dialogue” between the two countries in recent years. Zelenskyy has emphasized the importance of preventing the crisis from turning into a “frozen” conflict and urged for a swift resolution to the problems back in 2020.

Since 2014, the UN General Assembly has adopted nine resolutions related to the territorial integrity of Ukraine, the human rights situation in Crimea, and the region’s militarization. But, Armenia has voted against all nine resolutions on Crimea. Armenia has used this support for the concept of “self-determination” in Crimea as a justification for a similar process in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, this approach has moved further away from a peaceful settlement and has drawn Armenia closer to its main ally, Russia. 

While Russia has long been Armenia’s main military and political ally, Armenia’s dependence on Moscow for defense and security deepened further following the 2020 war with Azerbaijan. Armenia is heavily reliant on Russia for military equipment and officer training. In addition, Russia is Armenia’s leading trading partner, and in 2019, nearly half of all money transfers to Armenia came from the two million Armenians living and working in Russia. As a result, Armenia is constrained in its foreign policy choices and is obligated to align its voting behavior with Russia in international organizations.

For over two decades, Ukraine has stood as a steadfast ally of Azerbaijan, consistently supporting its territorial integrity since the first ceasefire in 1994. This unwavering stance, which has become more robust and consistent in the face of Russia’s aggression, speaks to the strategic importance of preserving internationally recognized borders in the post-Soviet space. Armenia’s dependence on the Russian state as an ally has put it at odds with Ukraine, making it unlikely that relations between both countries improve until Armenia distances itself from Russia.

David Kirichenko is a freelance journalist covering Eastern Europe and an editor at Euromaidan Press. He tweets @DVKirichenko.

Violation of ceasefire in Martakert district of Karabakh recorded
Armenia – Feb 21 2023

A ceasefire violation has been recorded in the Martakert region of Nagorno-Karabakh. This is reported in the information bulletin of the Russian peacekeeping contingent.

It is noted that there were no casualties.

"The command of the Russian peacekeeping contingent and the Azerbaijani and Armenian sides are investigating the incident," the Russian Defense Ministry said.

It is also reported that Russian peacekeepers continue negotiations on resuming unimpeded vehicular traffic on the Stepanakert-Goris road.

Patrols were conducted along four routes in the Martakert, Martuni, Shushi districts and Lachin corridor.

The Russian Defense Ministry informs, a convoy with humanitarian aid was escorted along the Goris-Stepanakert route.