(Yerevan) Armenia said on Thursday it wanted to use the UN to prevent a “genocide” of Armenians in the Nagorny Karabakh enclave it disputes with Azerbaijan, accusing Russian peacekeepers of not fulfill their mission.

Yerevan says Baku has been blocking the only road linking Nagorny Karabakh to Armenia for weeks, causing a humanitarian crisis. Baku denies these accusations.

“Azerbaijan’s military and political leaders are planning ethnic cleansing and genocide of the people of Nagorny Karabakh,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said Thursday at a government meeting.

“Russian peacekeepers are guarantors of the security of the people of Karabakh and if they cannot provide it, they themselves must turn to the UN Security Council to prevent a genocide,” he said.

Pashinyan said he ordered Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan to launch “international mechanisms to prevent genocide, including within the framework of the UN.”

Mr. Mirzoyan is in charge of “starting negotiations with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [Filippo Grandi] on the return of Armenians to the territories of Karabakh occupied by Azerbaijan and neighboring regions”, said the first minister.

Russia defended itself later in the day, saying its “peacekeepers…are doing everything in their power to prevent escalation and stabilize the situation.” “And they are doing it within their scope of action,” said Russian diplomatic spokeswoman Maria Zakharova.

During her weekly update, she recalled that Moscow was “trying” to resolve the tensions “diplomatically”, with “scrupulous efforts, titanic work aimed at the implementation of all agreements”.

A mountainous region mainly populated by Armenians and having seceded from Azerbaijan at the collapse of the Soviet Union, Nagorny Karabakh continues to poison relations between Yerevan and Baku.

The first conflict, in the early 1990s at the time of the dismantling of the USSR, which left 30,000 dead, ended in an Armenian victory with the support of Moscow.

But Azerbaijan took its revenge in the fall of 2020 in a second war, which left 6,500 dead and allowed it to retake many territories.

Despite the presence of Russian military personnel, clashes in Karabakh and on the Azerbaijani-Armenian border remain frequent and threaten to derail the fragile truce reached after the 2020 war.

On Wednesday, Baku accused Yerevan of firing on its positions on the border between the two Caucasian countries and in the Nagorny Karabakh region.

Armenia is increasingly critical of the role of Russia, its traditional ally, a test for Moscow’s regional influence, mired in its invasion of Ukraine.