US asks Azerbaijan to protect Armenians as many flee Karabakh.
At least 13,550 of the region’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians relocated to Armenia.
Ilham Aliyev to fulfill his promise to protect the rights of ethnic Armenians.
The United States has called on Azerbaijan to protect civilian rights and permit humanitarian and monitoring missions in the region amid a mass exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh, driven by fears of ethnic cleansing.
Nagorno-Karabakh, a breakaway region not under Baku’s control since the Soviet Union’s dissolution, witnessed Armenians fleeing following a swift military defeat by Azerbaijan’s forces.
On the first day of this exodus with a convoy of vehicles and buses packed with belongings making their way down the mountain road out of Azerbaijan at least 13,550 of the region’s 120,000 ethnic Armenians relocated to Armenia.
Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), emphasized the importance of Azerbaijan upholding the ceasefire and taking concrete actions to protect civilian rights in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Power, who previously delivered a letter of support from U.S. President Joe Biden to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, stated that Azerbaijan’s use of force was unacceptable, and Washington was considering an appropriate response.
She called on Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev to fulfill his promise to protect the rights of ethnic Armenians, fully reopen the Lachin corridor connecting the region to Armenia, and allow aid deliveries and an international monitoring mission.
Aliyev has pledged to ensure the safety of Karabakh’s Armenians but stated that his firm approach had rendered the idea of the region’s independence obsolete.
Some Armenians who managed to reach Armenia recounted horrifying experiences, fleeing death, war, and hunger.
Reports of dead civilians, including truckloads, were mentioned by some, while others, including young children, tearfully described their tragic journey of escaping conflict, sleeping outdoors, and enduring hunger.
As Armenians hurriedly left the Karabakh capital, known as Stepanakert by Armenia and Khankendi by Azerbaijan, fuel stations were overwhelmed by panic buying.
The local Armenian authorities reported at least 20 people killed and 290 injured in a fuel storage facility explosion on Monday.
The Azerbaijani victory has shifted the balance of power in the South Caucasus region, a complex area with various ethnic groups and intersecting oil and gas pipelines, where Russia, the United States, Turkey, and Iran are vying for influence.
Armenia had relied on a security partnership with Russia since the Soviet Union’s breakup, while Azerbaijan grew closer to Turkey due to linguistic and cultural ties.
Armenia has sought stronger ties with the West and accused Russia, which had peacekeepers in Karabakh but is now preoccupied with the war in Ukraine, of failing to protect the region.
Azerbaijani President Aliyev hinted at the possibility of establishing a land corridor to Turkey through Armenia.
Anatoly Antonov, the Russian ambassador to the United States, called on Washington to refrain from fueling anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia.