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Ranking Member Risch Opening Statement at Hearing on Assessing the Crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today gave the following opening remarks at a full committee hearing on assessing the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. Witnesses included The Honorable Yuri Kim, acting assistant secretary at the Bureau of European and Eurasian affairs at the State Department.

Ranking Member Risch gave the following remarks:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you to our witness for being here.

“The ongoing instability in Europe and Eurasia has made clear the need for a strong U.S. policy on the Caucasus – a region that continues to grow in importance due to its proximity to regional problematic actors Russia, Iran, and Turkey.

“Tensions are rising again between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. The United States must push back on policies that disregard the best interests of Armenia and Azerbaijan and run counter to U.S. interests. We should be able to do both.  

“This morning, I hope to hear from our witness about the efforts the U.S. government is taking to bring this conflict to a peaceful and sustainable resolution, and to reassure our friends about the U.S. remaining engaged. I share the chairman’s concerns in this regard.

“Assistant Secretary Kim, I understand that you were involved last weekend in talks to help open the Lachin Corridor and allow goods to flow again into the contested region. I hope you will detail for us the specifics of what was agreed and whether an end to this humanitarian crisis in in sight.

“Ending this conflict would bring peace to a fractured region and remove one of Russia’s key levers of influence in the region. If we fail to form and implement an effective policy, we could see a return of Russian influence, or even see China establishing a stronger foothold in the region.

“The United States, along with our European allies, have an important role to play in the future of the Caucasus. Our action in response to the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh will be key to broader U.S. policy toward the region. I look forward to hearing your assessments and more importantly your plans to face the challenge.

“Mr. Chairman, back to you.”

These remarks have been lightly edited for clarity. Witness testimony is available on