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Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

CrisisWatch Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict

Unchanged Situation

Low-level clashes continued in conflict zone, while Armenian and Azerbaijani FMs met for first time since Nov 2020. Low-level hostilities reported during month, with occasional shootings along front lines. Notably, Russian peacekeepers 17 Sept released report that two Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) soldiers were wounded in shootings; Deputy Chief of Press Service of Azerbaijan’s Defence Ministry Anar Eyvazov 19 Sept denied information and called report “surprising and regrettable”. Further incidents were reported on social media without official confirmation from either side. Azerbaijani and Turkish special forces 6-11 Sept organised first ever training drills in Lachin district located between NK and Armenia. Following Russian mediation, Armenia and Azerbaijan 7 Sept exchanged one Azerbaijani soldier with two Armenian soldiers, all of whom were detained in NK in July-Aug. In first diplomatic contact since Autumn 2020 war, co-chairs of Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group 24 Sept facilitated joint meeting between Azerbaijani FM Jeyhun Bayramov and Armenian FM Ararat Mirzoyan on sidelines of UN General Assembly session; meeting focused on “wide range of outstanding unresolved issues”, while co-chairs proposed “specific focused measures to deescalate situation”, according to OSCE. Incoming head of Russian peacekeeping mission in NK Lieutenant General Gennady Anashkin 25 Sept met Armenian defence minister and 28 Sept met Azerbaijani defence minister; previous head of mission faced criticism from Baku. Tensions surfaced between Armenia and Azerbaijan over regional highway. Azerbaijani police 13 Sept installed checkpoint on main highway connecting Iran to South Caucasus and Armenia with its southern regions, violating agreements following Autumn 2020 war (see Armenia and Azerbaijan). Armenian and Azerbaijani leadership marked one-year anniversary of start of Autumn 2020 war on 27 Sept amid series of commemorative events held across countries and in NK. Kamo Vardanyan 11 Sept replaced Mikael Arzumanyan as de facto NK defence minister.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

3 Oct 2020
This is a more serious escalation [over Nagorno-Karabakh], much better prepared, with more troops, and happening simultaneously on all parts of the front line. The Economist

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
28 Sep 2020
We are a step away from a large-scale war (between Armenia and Azerbaijan). Al-Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
27 Jul 2020
At some point there are things that require somebody to set a leadership agenda. [OSCE] can’t do all of that without somebody in charge. Financial Times

Olga Oliker

Program Director, Europe and Central Asia
16 Jul 2020
It seems unlikely the [Azerbaijan-Armenia] crisis would escalate, as neither side has territorial claims on northern border areas and the fighting had not spread to Karabakh itself. Al Jazeera

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus
12 Apr 2017
The chances for the potential escalation [of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict] are very high. And the conflict will be more deadly this time, since both sides know each other’s capabilities Institute for War & Peace Reporting

Magdalena Grono

Former Program Director, Europe & Central Asia
29 Dec 2016
[A border clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan] is really very strange and surprising. There have been very few incidents outside Nagorno-Karabakh this year. Financial Times

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus

Latest Updates

EU Watch List / Global

Watch List 2021 – Autumn Update

Every year Crisis Group publishes two additional Watch List updates that complement its annual Watch List for the EU, most recently published in January 2021. These publications identify major crises and conflict situations where the European Union and its member states can generate stronger prospects for peace. The Autumn Update of the Watch List 2021 includes entries on Afghanistan, Burundi, Iran, Nagorno-Karabakh and Nicaragua.

Podcast / Asia

Ethnicity and Conflict in Myanmar

This week on Hold Your Fire!, Rob Malley and guest host Richard Atwood talk about the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh with Crisis Group’s Europe Program Director Olga Oliker and examine Myanmar’s identity crisis with Crisis Group expert Richard Horsey. 

Getting from Ceasefire to Peace in Nagorno-Karabakh

A Russian-brokered deal has silenced the guns in Nagorno-Karabakh, the region disputed for decades by Armenia and Azerbaijan. It falls short, however, of a clear, sustainable peace. The parties and foreign stakeholders should work to ensure that the new arrangements have benefits for all concerned.

Turkey Flexes Its Foreign Policy Muscles

In this week’s episode of Hold Your Fire!, Nigar Göksel, Crisis Group’s Turkey director, dissects Turkey’s assertive moves in places ranging from Syria and Iraq to Libya, the eastern Mediterranean, and now Nagorno-Karabakh.

Reducing the Human Cost of the New Nagorno-Karabakh War

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.

Our People

Olesya Vartanyan

Senior Analyst, South Caucasus

Zaur Shiriyev

Analyst, South Caucasus