Conflict Flares Between Azerbaijan and Armenia as Russia’s Attention and Military Are Consumed by Putin’s War in Ukraine – Opinion

Fighting between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces in the Nagorno Karabakh separatist enclave could escalate into a wider war on Wednesday


Nagorno Karabakh, a country within Azerbaijan. While Azerbaijan’s population is predominantly Azerbaijani-Muslim, the majority of Nagorno-Karabakh are Christian and Armenian. Conflict’s roots are very deep, and they were not even bounded by the USSR. When Azerbaijan and Armenia were “Soviet Socialist Republics,” the Azerbaijan government was accused of attempting to eradicate Armenian identity. The Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh repeatedly asked Moscow for Armenian membership.

Following six-years of conflict, Azerbaijan and Armenia declared war on each other. Nagorno-Karabakh gained autonomy in 1994 as the “Republic of Artsakh.” The Lachlin Corridor corridor was created, allowing overland travel from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.

The results have not been well received since then. Nagorno–Karabakh’s government has been accused in a low-profile ethnic cleansing. It allegedly expelled several hundred thousand ethnic Azerbaijanis.

It has been home to the final-rate knock-offs of major power accomplishment. The Azerbaijan government is supported by Turkey probably because of pique over not solving the “Armenian problem” in 1915. Russia and Iran back Armenia. Iran holds a real stake in this battle, since Azerbaijan has an extremely long border with Iran. The area also is heavily Azerbaijani. Russia, naturally, imagines it has special authority because of the “sphere of influence” bullsh** we’re supposed to nod our heads to when it is mentioned.

Azerbaijan and Armenia waged a six week war in 2020 called the September War. Azerbaijan was victorious in a battle that ended just short of the destruction of Republic of Artsakh. You can see that yellow is an indication of the part Artsakh has given to Azerbaijan. Blue is Azerbaijani territory that Artsakh still claims. This is Artsakh’s remaining territory. The Russians have about 2,000 troops inside Artsakh as a “peacekeeping” force.


Credit: Emreculha, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Today’s Crisis

On Wednesday, Azerbaijan announced that one of their soldiers had been murdered. This triggered the current round of conflict. Two Armenians were killed in a drone attack by Azerbaijan. The drone seen below, which is probably an Azerbaijani Bayraktar and striking Armenian soldiers, can be seen in action.

The president of Artsakh has called for “full mobilization.” Iran is sending troops to the border.

I don’t think anyone is really sure how this plays out. Azerbaijan proved it could defeat the Russian-backed separatists in Artsakh. Fourteen hundred Russian “peacekeepers” is not a lot of men to stop a war. Azerbaijan has no reason to be concerned about Russian intervention. They are now so discreditable in Ukraine that no one is afraid of them. The Russian peacekeeping force will be useless if Azerbaijan continues to press this issue. The Iranian military has very little capability to defeat ISIS, and Iran may move equipment along the border to give regime supporters an extra boost. The Iranian military is certainly not as capable of fighting ISIS than Armenia and Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan spent many years establishing closer relations with the West in recent years. Azerbaijan’s delegation attended the Warsaw Conference in 2019, where they voted to name Iran as a sponsor for terrorism. Azerbaijan has signed an agreement to replace Russia as a natural gas source with the EU.

Short summary: Armenia and Artsakh, the separatist state, will be completely isolated if there is war. Armenia is now dependent on Russia and Iran to support its cause. This pro-Armenia account shows that the EU does not take sides in this conflict.

Turkey, Israel and the US all have military assistance agreements with Azerbaijan. Armenia has 1,400 Russian peacekeepers and jacksh** otherwise. Armenia, which is aware of these facts is trying to start negotiations with Turkey to reestablish diplomatic recognizance and open the Armenian-Turkey border. Both were cut after the war between Armenian and Azerbaijan. Turkey however has tied any such movement to Azerbaijan-Armenia face-toface negotiations.

As Russia becomes more and more bogged down in Ukraine, look for more of this on Russia’s periphery. As Russia recedes from world power status, its ability to control the actions of neighboring states will be reduced, and more regional actors will step up to intervene in those conflicts without regard to Moscow’s desires.


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