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.
Azerbaijan and de facto Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) authorities accused each other of targeting military positions and civilian areas in NK; disagreements over format of future NK negotiations continued.
Azerbaijan and de facto NK authorities traded accusations of ceasefire violations. Reports of sharp increase in attacks at military positions and nearby civilian areas along front line in NK conflict zone drew accusations and denials from Azerbaijan and de facto authorities in equal measure. Notably, Stepanakert 10 Nov said Azerbaijani shooting injured one farmer; Azerbaijan’s defence ministry 26 Nov reported downing of quadcopter allegedly used by de facto forces for surveillance purposes; Stepanakert 28 Nov said Azerbaijani forces injured two soldiers with mine launchers. Russian peacekeepers’ reports of stepped-up shootings aggravated tensions with Baku, which 24, 25 Nov accused mission of partial and biased reporting. Meanwhile, situation at Armenia-Azerbaijan border remained fragile following Sept clashes, with both sides reporting shooting along front line during Nov (see Armenia, Azerbaijan).
Azerbaijan accused Armenia of planting mines in NK conflict zone. Azerbaijan 23 Nov invited military attachés of several foreign states to observe hundreds of mines, reportedly produced in Armenia in 2021 and discovered around Sarybaba heights near Lachin corridor after being captured by Azerbaijani troops during Aug escalation. Baku also invited Russian peacekeeping mission and Russian-Turkish observation centres, mandated to prevent transportation of any weapons from Armenia to NK, to site. Yerevan and Stepanakert 24 Nov denied planting mines in area and accused Baku of staging it as pretext for provocation.
Stepanakert and Baku disagreed over format of future NK negotiations. Russian businessman Ruben Vardanyan 4 Nov became de facto state minister of NK; Azerbaijani President Aliyev 17 Nov ruled out possibility of negotiations with Vardanyan, who he said was sent from Moscow “with a very clear agenda”. In same statement, Aliyev confirmed willingness to speak with “Armenians who live in Karabakh” but excluded talks with de facto NK authorities; de facto FM Davit Babayan next day reiterated readiness to negotiate with Azerbaijan but only in “internationally recognised” format, namely “the OSCE Minsk Group”.
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.
We are a step away from a large-scale war (between Armenia and Azerbaijan).
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.
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 Karab...
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 othe...
[A border clash between Armenia and Azerbaijan] is really very strange and surprising. There have been very few incidents outside Nagorno-Karabakh this year.
This week on War & Peace, Olga Oliker and Elissa Jobson speak with Olesya Vartanyan and Zaur Shiriyev, Crisis Group’s South Caucasus experts, about where things stand between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the deadly border clashes in September and whether a peace agreement might be within reach.
Several soldiers have been killed in clashes between Azerbaijani troops and ethnic Armenian forces answering to the de facto authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh, raising fears of escalation. Crisis Group experts Olesya Vartanyan, Zaur Shiriyev and Anita Mihaeljana explain what can be done to safeguard the ceasefire.
Russia’s war in Ukraine has raised fears of renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh but also hopes of mediation opportunities. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2022 – Spring Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to facilitate diplomatic efforts, preserve Moscow’s role in conflict resolution and make clear that they will support any agreed steps toward an eventual settlement.
Fresh clashes in and around Nagorno-Karabakh imperil the November 2020 ceasefire monitored by Russian peacekeepers. Even as they square off over Ukraine, Russia, Western powers and Turkey should endeavour to reach a quiet agreement on how to avert escalation in the South Caucasus.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood talks to Crisis Group’s Turkey expert, Nigar Göksel, about Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s recent trip to Ukrainian capital Kyiv, Turkey’s involvement in conflicts in Syria, Libya and the Caucasus, and its wider foreign relations.
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.
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.
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