Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflicts


Image Courtesy of CBS News

Tensions between Azerbaijan and an ethnically Armenian region known as the Nagorno Karabakh have boiled over to the point of conflict. Since then, multiple clashes have left dozens dead and hundreds wounded. Furthermore, a complicated set of alliances between NATO member states and Russia threaten to divide NATO and destabilize the region as a whole.

Early fighting in the Nagorno Karabakh region occurred during the stagnation of the former USSR in the 1980s. In the 1990s, war broke out causing ethnic Azeris to flee, as well as the region becoming self governing with close support from Armenia. Currently however, many nations across the world recognize Nagorno Karabakh as being part of Azerbaijan. As the war raged on during the early 1990s, hundreds of thousands of Armenians and Azeris became displaced from their respective countries. Finally a ceasefire temporarily ended the conflict however, tensions remained high in the region.

In July of 2020, fighting between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces reignited with Armenia claiming that a woman and a child were killed due to artillery shells from Azerbaijan. Armenia also claimed that two Azerbaijani helicopters as well as three tanks were destroyed. While Azerbaijan claimed some military losses, their defense ministry rejected Armenia’s claims. After this initial incident, sporadic fighting still continues with casualties mounting and both sides blaming each other for each conflict that occurs.

International response was initially very limited with the majority of Europe dealing with curbing the pandemic, and the US dealing with the pandemic, racial unrest, and the presidential elections. Because of this, no attempt at de-escalation was made and fighting broke out unhindered. Additionally a complicated set of alliances between foreign powers makes any diplomatic solution even harder. France and Turkey, two NATO member states, spared over the fighting with Turkey supporting Azerbaijan and France calling for de-escalation efforts while also calling out Turkey. Russia has been more ambiguous about its support as the Kremlin has close ties with both Azerbaijan and Armenia. Meanwhile several EU member states as well as the US have called for de escalation for both sides of the conflict. With fighting still raging on in the region and recent protests within the US, it is difficult to see any solution in sight.