U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has urged the United States and the international community to respond and hold Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev and his regime accountable for the ethnic cleansing campaign underway in the Republic of Artsakh, also known as Nagorno-Karabakh.   

In powerful remarks delivered on the Senate floor on Tuesday, September 12, Senator Menendez accused the Aliyev regime of genocide.  

“The Aliyev government in Azerbaijan is carrying out a campaign of heinous atrocities that bear the hallmarks of genocide against the Armenians in Artsakh,” he said. “We need to call out those individuals perpetrating this campaign of ethnic cleansing.” 

Azerbaijan has blockaded Nagorno-Karabakh for nine months now and the republic’s population is under threat of starvation. Former International Criminal Court chief prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo has accused Azerbaijan of carrying out a “silent genocide.” 

Senator Menendez called for sanctions on Aliyev and his accomplices.  

“We need to target them – including President Aliyev – with sanctions,” he said. “We need to be cutting off their access to the wealth and oil money they have stashed away at financial institutions around the world, to their yachts and mansions across Europe.” 

He also urged President Joe Biden to enforce Section 907 of the United States Freedom Support Act, which bans any kind of direct U.S. aid to the Azerbaijani government until Azerbaijan takes “demonstrable steps to cease all blockades and other offensive uses of force against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.” 

The act was passed in 1992 in response to the Azerbaijani blockade of Artsakh during the first war of 1988-1994.  

“I don’t know how the United States can justify spending any kind of support, security or otherwise to the regime in Baku … to send them assistance makes a mockery of [US aid],” Senator Menendez said.  

In Artsakh, Samvel Shahramanyan was elected president of the republic in a special election by the Parliament following the resignation of Arayik Harutyunyan. While a Russian Red Cross truck with some aid was allowed into Stepanakert through the Akna road, the enclave continues under blockade.