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.
Fragile calm prevailed in Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) as deadly clashes erupted between Armenia and Azerbaijan along state border.
Disputed NK territory saw relative calm as deadly clashes flared in other areas. Amid high tensions following Baku’s military operation in NK early Aug, clashes 13 Sept erupted along Armenia-Azerbaijan state border, marking deadliest violence between two countries since six-week war in 2020. Fighting killed at least 207 Armenian and 80 Azerbaijani soldiers and forced 2,700 Armenian civilians from their homes (see Armenia and Azerbaijan). Addressing UN General Assembly, PM Pashinyan said threat of new offensive remained “very high” and that “Azerbaijan intends to occupy more territories of Armenia”.
International actors urged sides to continue normalisation process. Russia, U.S., EU and France 13 Sept called for peace and restraint. Russia 15 Sept called on Baku and Yerevan to “refrain from steps that could lead to increased tensions” and to fulfil “the ceasefire agreements mediated by Russia” that ended 2020 war; U.S. same day called for “comprehensive settlement of all remaining issues between Armenia and Azerbaijan”.
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.
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.
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.