The only road link between Russia and Georgia and Armenia has now been shut for almost a week, stranding vital cargo due to an avalanche alert.
Hundreds of trucks are stuck near at the Russian-Georgian border as a result of a road closure of the lone traffic artery due to extreme weather conditions, including avalanche hazards.
The highway crosses treacherous mountain passes climbing to over 2,000 metres above sea level. Even in the best of times, the road, known earlier as “the Georgian Military road” was rammed through by Tsarist armies in an effort to establish Moscow’s hold over the South Caucasus. The Russian literary great Alexander Pushkin detailed it in his works. The ancient Strabo mentioned the route when it was little more than a dirt track. Lermontov, Tolstoy, and others also eulogized it.
Around 460 trucks en route to neighbouring Armenia via Georgia’s Uppers Lars checkpoint have piled up on the Russian side of the border, Armenia’s emergency ministry said. The road is the lone transport corridor for Armenia, whose borders with Azerbaijan and Turkey have been closed since 1993 due to the war between Armenian and Azerbaijan. The active phase of the conflict ended in November after a 44-day blitzkrieg by Azerbaijan, as it took back large swathes of occupied land.
Armenia’s only other connection to the outside world is via a long, circuitous route via Iran.
The road is sporadically closed due to extreme weather, but usually only for a day or few at most.
Russian peacekeepers now guard the areas along the frontier between the two countries after they signed a peace agreement brokered by Moscow. A joint Russian-Turkish monitoring centre in the destroyed, de-occupied city of Agdam opened late last year.
But trade routes have yet to be re-opened, and are the subject of current negotiations.