A fragile truce concluded on 14 September halted fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia that left hundreds of soldiers dead. In this Q&A, Crisis Group explains what occurred and what needs to happen now to restart the peace process between the two foes.
Clashes erupted along border with Armenia, marking deadliest escalation since 2020 war as fighting spilled deeper into Armenian territory; fighting could escalate once more as negotiating positions harden.
Renewed hostilities with Armenia killed hundreds. Clashes 13 Sept erupted along border with Armenia, marking deadliest violence between two countries since six-week war in 2020. Sides blamed each other for renewed fighting; Armenian defence ministry 13 Sept said Azerbaijani forces shelled 200km stretch of southern border in Armenia’s Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces, attacking civilian and military infrastructure in “unprovoked aggression” and moving deep inside Armenian territory; Baku same day rejected characterisation, saying its forces took action to prevent Armenian “saboteurs” from mining supply roads on border near Azerbaijani army positions. Armenian PM Pashinyan 14 Sept said Azerbaijani army had taken control of at least 10 sq km of Armenian territory. Yerevan and Baku 14 Sept issued statements committing to ceasefire, although both countries 14, 21, 23, 24, 28 Sept accused each other of violating it. Fighting in two days killed at least 207 Armenian and 80 Azerbaijani soldiers; Yerevan 19 Sept said four Armenian civilians were killed and that authorities had been forced to evacuate over 2,700 civilians from Syunik and Gegharkunik provinces. Addressing UN General Assembly (UNGA), Pashinyan 22 Sept said threat of new offensive remained “very high” and that “Azerbaijan intends to occupy more territories of Armenia”.
Clashes prompted flurry of diplomatic activity. Before fragile ceasefire was announced, Russia, U.S., EU and France 13 Sept called for peace and restraint, with Moscow announcing it had brokered ceasefire, though fighting persisted into following day. In rare show of unity, UN Security Council members 15 Sept condemned violence and urged talks. On sidelines of UNGA, U.S. Sec State Antony Blinken 19 Sept brought together both countries’ FMs, urging “strong, sustainable diplomatic engagement” to reinforce fragile ceasefire. In less measured response, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi day blamed Azerbaijani forces for “illegal and deadly attacks on Armenian territory” during visit to Yerevan day before; Baku 18 Sept said Pelosi’s “groundless” accusations dealt blow to peace efforts.
Many people would be very surprised if clashes at the Armenia-Azerbaijan border spiral out into war, but that doesn’t mean something cannot happen, say, in the Nagorno-Ka...
This week on Hold Your Fire! Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s UN Director Richard Gowan about the state of the UN as world leaders meet for General Assembly week, and also catches up with Europe and Central Asia Program Director Olga Oliker about the latest from Ukraine and violence on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Hugh Pope talk to Crisis Group’s South Caucasus expert Olesya Vartanyan about the conflict in and over Nagorno-Karabakh, a year on from a Russian-brokered ceasefire that put an end to renewed large-scale fighting between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
The 2020 war over Nagorno-Karabakh left many issues unresolved and the front lines volatile. The parties should establish a formal communication channel to address urgent post-war problems, Russian peacekeepers need a clearer mandate and aid agencies must be granted access to the conflict zone.
Russian mediation succeeded in ending the six-week war in Nagorno-Karabakh but left much unresolved, chiefly the region’s future status. If the cessation of hostilities is to become a sustainable peace, the parties should start by cooperating on humanitarian relief and trade before tackling larger questions.
Fighting in and around Nagorno-Karabakh is decimating towns and cities, displacing tens of thousands and killing scores. Combatants must cease attacks on populated areas and let humanitarian aid through. International actors, notably the UN and OSCE, should send monitors and push harder for a ceasefire.
Azerbaijan and Armenia are again at war over the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region. Russia and France may be best-positioned to broker a ceasefire, but would need to offer parties prospects of attaining goals through talks. It will be a hard sell.
In this week’s episode of Hold Your Fire!, Aaron Miller, a veteran U.S. diplomat, unpacks President Trump’s unconventional foreign relations with our President Rob Malley and co-host Naz Modirzadeh, a Harvard professor of international law and armed conflict.