Celebrity and influencer Kim Kardashian has penned an op-ed calling on US President Joe Biden to prevent “another Armenian genocide” from taking place in Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan and Armenia fought over the territory in 2020, and Yerevan now claims that Azeri forces are trying to starve its population into submission.
“Since December of last year, Azerbaijan has blockaded the only lifeline between the indigenous Christian Armenians of Artsakh (also known as Nagorno-Karabakh) and the rest of the world,” Kardashian and Armenian-American doctor Eric Esrailian wrote in Rolling Stone magazine on Friday.
“As citizens, we are appealing to leaders such as President Biden, Secretary of State Blinken, and their colleagues to take a stand immediately,” Kardashian and Esrailian added. “They must pressure Azerbaijan to open the corridor without preconditions.”
An Armenian enclave within Azeri territory, Nagorno-Karabakh is linked to Armenia by the Lachin corridor. This mountain road allowed vital supplies to reach Nagorno-Karabakh’s approximately 120,000 Armenian residents, until it was blockaded by environmental activists last year. Baku claims that alternate routes exist, but Yerevan appealed to the UN Security Council last month for assistance in lifting the blockade.
Amid reports of a buildup of Azeri troops on Nagorno-Karabakh’s borders, Armenian officials have sought Western protection. Despite Armenia being a member of the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), its government has sent aid money to Ukraine, announced military exercises with the US, and begun ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which would place the country under obligation to arrest Russian President Vladimir Putin if he were to travel there.
In an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica on Sunday, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan claimed that Moscow was “abandoning the [South Caucasus] region,” and that Russian peacekeepers were “unable or unwilling” to control the Lachin corridor.
Russia brokered a ceasefire between Azerbaijan and Armenia in 2020, ending 44 days of bloodshed over Nagorno-Karabakh. As part of the deal, Azerbaijan and Armenia were due to build a new highway linking the region to Armenia, patrolled by Russian peacekeepers. However, both sides have been unable to agree on its route, and Baku has not committed to building gas and power infrastructure along the road.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned Armenia’s ambassador in Moscow on Friday to strongly protest Yerevan’s overtures to the West. The ministry has called the actions of Pashinyan’s government “unfriendly,” and said that it “firmly believes that Russia and Armenia remain allies.”
Biden has not commented on the Lachin blockade, or on Yerevan’s claims of an impending conflict.