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Humanitarian aid resumed in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh Monday, after Armenian-backed separatists reached an agreement with the Azerbaijani government following months of tensions and fears of renewed conflict, Radio Free Europe reported.
Since last year, the Azerbaijani government has blocked the only road – known as the Lachin Corridor – linking Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. The closure resulted in shortages of food and medicine, prompting Armenia to accuse its neighbor of pursuing a “policy of ethnic cleansing.”
Azerbaijan rejected the allegations, countering that separatist authorities had refused its proposal to simultaneously reopen both the Lachin Corridor and the Aghdam road – the latter of which connects Nagorno-Karabakh with the rest of Azerbaijan.
On Monday, Azerbaijani authorities announced that humanitarian aid from the Red Cross could flow along the Lachin Corridor and Aghdam road, while maintaining that “there was no so-called blockade but deliberate self-blockade,” according to Agence France-Presse.
The Armenian-populated enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh has been a major source of conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, resulting in two wars over the past three decades.
The most recent conflict ended in autumn 2020 with a Russian-brokered truce that saw Armenia cede swathes of territory it had controlled since the 1990s.
Even so, despite ongoing peace negotiations mediated by the European Union and the United States, clashes have occurred regularly along the shared border of the two countries.
Analysts said the months-long blockade and the presence of Azerbaijan troops near the region’s border have sparked fears of a new conflict between Baku and Yerevan.