LOS ANGELES - Many local Armenian-Americans in Southern California are concerned, and demanding more international pressure tonight — worried about the situation along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan once again.
Natural gas is finally flowing to Artsakh after days without heat for the 120,000 residents living in the region. The Armenia-Artsakh gas pipeline is under Azerbaijani control, and this is third time this year the gas supply has been cut.
"It looks like our neighbor country realized it's bad for them, and they understood what this is the issue," said Artsakh State Minister Ruben Vardanyan. "It's raising more and more concern about what's happening in Artsakh."
But still, the only road connecting Artsakh to Armenia and the rest of the world remains closed, after a group of Azerbaijanis blocked it, claiming Armenians are damaging the environment by mining. Russian peacekeepers are only keeping the protesters out of Artsakh. Their mandate since the end of the 2020 war is not defense, but to prevent conflict.
"The U.N. definitely needs to give the Russians [bigger] mandate to bring more peacekeepers. Bring more. Clarity about their mandate and create more guarantees to us about our rights to have access to the Armenians in the world," said Vardanyan.
With the road closed, it is impossible to transport medical supplies, food, or goods. As the harsh winter approaches, the seriousness of the situation is intensifying.
"This is why we will stay strong, will stay in blockade until the road will not fully open, until we will not have the air corridor and other opportunities to not depend [on] Azerbaijan to allow access to the civilization," said Vardanyan.
The situation remains tense and now state and local leaders are voicing their concerns.
"This is genocide repeating itself. To stand here and have to even tell you that we in the U.S. who have always been a country to stand up to those who are being persecuted, it breaks my heart," said Kathryn Barger, Los Angeles County Supervisor.
Congressman Adam Schiff, the Armenian Caucus Vice Chair is circulating a letter asking President Joe Biden to break Azerbaijan’s blockade of Artaskh, cut aid to Azerbaijan and to send humanitarian aid to Artsakh.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles City Council President Paul Kerkorian released this message on social media:
"The city of LA stands in strong solidarity with the people of Artsakh, a democratically elected republic just trying to live in peace that is once again under threat of violence," said Krekorian.
Krekorian is calling for the US government to act now.
"Bring relief to the people of Artsakh. If it's is necessary to bring airlift to the get supplies in there, then please do that. If it's necessary to threaten to cut off all aid to Azerbaijan… then do that," Krekorian said. "The people of Artsakh [need] you now more than ever," said Krekorian, adding that a humanitarian disaster is imminent unless the world takes action now.