U.S. ‘Investigates’ Artsakh Ethnic Cleansing

U.S. ‘Investigates’ Artsakh Ethnic Cleansing

The United States is investigating whether last year’s mass exodus of Artsakh’s (Nagorno-Karabakh’s) ethnic Armenian population was a result of ethnic cleansing, according to Samantha Power, head of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), who made the announcement on Wednesday.

During the conclusion of her two-day visit to Armenia, Power emphasized that Washington continues to support the Karabakh Armenians’ right to safely return to their homeland, which Azerbaijan recaptured in September 2023. However, she noted that their repatriation requires “a change in circumstances on the ground right now,” without providing further details.

In the wake of an Azerbaijani military offensive condemned by the U.S. and the European Union, more than 100,000 Karabakh Armenians—virtually the entire remaining population of the region—fled to Armenia within a week.

Power observed the refugee influx and spoke with some of the displaced individuals during her visit to an Armenian border area near the Lachin corridor in September 2023. At that time, she announced $11.5 million in U.S. humanitarian aid for displaced Karabakh Armenians.

During her recent trip to Armenia, Power again met with refugees and held discussions with Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, other government officials, business leaders, and civic activists. She commended the Armenian government’s efforts to assist the Karabakh Armenians.

At a news conference in Yerevan, Power did not confirm whether she believes Azerbaijan committed ethnic cleansing in Karabakh, stating that the U.S. State Department is “investigating” the events of September 2023 and will eventually provide a “legal determination of what happened.”

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State James O’Brien was also noncommittal on the issue in his remarks to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service last month.

“We’ve commissioned an independent review by an outside group that advocates for human rights globally, and we’re still waiting for that group to return with its conclusions,” O’Brien said, without naming the group.