Azerbaijan cut off natural gas supplies to Artsakh but restored them six hours later, the authorities in Stepanakert said on Tuesday, January 17, to the Armenian Service of RFE/RL.
In a statement, an Artsakh government body said that a pipeline supplying gas from Armenia and passing through Azerbaijani-controlled territory was again blocked by Baku early in the afternoon more than one month after Azerbaijani government-backed protesters blocked Artsakh’s land link with Armenia
“Azerbaijan is continuing its actions aimed at ethnically cleansing Artsakh,” an aide to Ruben Vardanyan, the Artsakh State Minister, wrote on Facebook.
Vardanyan held an emergency meeting in Stepanakert of a Artsakh task force dealing with economic and other consequences of the continuing blockade. An official statement on the meeting said they discussed “ensuring uninterrupted operation of vital facilities” cut off from gas. It said Vardanyan instructed Artsakh officials to find “alternative ways” of supporting those facilities and meeting “the minimum needs of the population.”
The local gas operator Artsakhgas reported later in the day that gas is again flowing to Artsakh from Armenia. It said it is now making technical preparations for swiftly resuming gas supplies to Artsakh households.
The vital gas supplies were already disrupted on December 13 the day after the closure of the sole road connecting Artsakh to Armenia. They were restored three days later.
Supplies of electricity from Armenia to Artsakh were similarly blocked by Azerbaijan on January 10, leading to serious power shortages in the Armenian-populated territory. The resulting daily power cuts have hit particularly hard local residents using electricity to heat their homes. The absence of natural gas would only aggravate the problem.