Caucasus, Karabakh: Harutyunyan, lider of the Artsakh Republic

Armenian leader of Karabakh asks for help to stop Azerbaijan’s advance

The Azerbaijani army is located less than 5 km from Shusha, the second largest city in Karabakh, which connects Stepanakert with Armenia.

Arayik Harutyunyan, the Armenian leader of the self-proclaimed Artsakh Republic – founded on the territories conquered from Azerbaijan in Karabakh in the war of the 90s – posted a video on social media on Thursday asking for help to stop the advance of the Azerbaijani army, whose forces are located just a few kilometres from the historic town of Shusha, considered the key to control all of Karabakh.

The video, in which Harutyunyan appears as usual in military clothing, was recorded in front of the famous Shusha cathedral – damaged in the conflict – and on it the leader of Artsakh affirms that the enemy forces are “at most 5 kilometres “from Shusha. “The enemy’s main objective is to capture Shushi,” he said, referring to the town’s Armenian name. “Whoever controls Shushi, controls Artsakh,” he underlined.

Harutyunyan asks in the recording to all Armenians to come to the defence of this strategic town of about 20,000 inhabitants, which is the second most important population of the Artsakh Republic after the capital, Stepanakert (Khankendi, in Azeri), of about 50,000 inhabitants. In addition to being located on a promontory that makes it dominate the entire region – including Stepanakert, located only 10 km to the North – the main road that connects the capital with Armenia passes through Shusha.

“In the next few days we need to turn this situation around at the front, and punish the enemy at the very gates of Shushi. Let us unite and fight together,” Harutyunyan concludes saying in the video.

The conquest of Shusha would be an important achievement for Azerbaijan, which since the conflict resumed at the end of September has managed to gain control of practically the entire south of the Karabakh region under Armenian occupation, including complete control of its border with Iran. In the last hours there is information that indicates that the Azerbaijani army is already just 2 km from the town, which could fall in the coming days.