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Fighting broke out again between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two former Soviet republics and traditional rivals located between Russia, Georgia and the Middle East in an area known as the South Caucasus.
The two bordering countries are bitter rivals and have clashed over territorial claims since the late 1980s, with periodic violence that sometimes erupts into all-out war.
Utilities start over Officials said between Armenia and Azerbaijan this month in the bloodiest wave of violence since 2020, with at least 100 people dead. A ceasefire reached last Wednesday has temporarily halted the bloodshed.
Here’s what you need to know about the conflict and what’s to come:
Tracing bad blood between Armenia and Azerbaijan
The territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan was well underway when the Soviet Union broke up in 1991.
Tensions are mainly focused on an area known as Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian enclave located inside Azerbaijan. Although Armenia claims the territory, the area is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
A war in the mountains in the early 1990s, killed about 30,000 people and 1 million displaced, resulting in Armenia gaining control of Nagorno-Karabakh and several surrounding districts.
Fortune flared in 2020 when the two countries went to war again, this time with Azerbaijan – supported militarily by its ally Turkey – retaking much of Nagorno-Karabakh and neighboring territories, by Crisis Group. An agreement to end hostilities was subsequently made brokered by Russiasent a peacekeeping force to patrol the rest of Nagorno-Karabakh, although this force is still administered by the pro-Armenian local government.
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Both sides blame the other for the most recent round of fighting, which occurred not only around Nagorno-Karabakh but also along the Armenia-Azerbaijan border and even inside Armenia, a notable escalation in conflict.
According to the United NationsArmenia reported 105 service members killed and 6 civilians injured before Wednesday’s ceasefire, while Azerbaijan said 71 of its service members died and two civilians were injured.
Ceasefire keep hold on Saturday when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several other US lawmakers arrived in Armenia. Pelosi blamed Azerbaijan for “illegal attacks” on Armenia – prompting an angry Azerbaijani rebuke, which called her remarks “Armenian propaganda” that could escalate the conflict.
Russia already exerts great influence in the region, but its influence is waning
Although Russia is Armenia’s military ally under a regional security treaty, it has brokered the 2020 peace agreement between both countries and has traditionally attempted to play a role in peacekeeping. peace in this part of the Caucasus.
This time, however, Russia’s role has been further tested by the conflict in Ukraine, home to the Kremlin’s military campaign. faced significant setbacks amid a counterattack by Ukrainian forces.
“The timing of this is interesting because Russia can’t really help Armenia at the moment,” Paul Stronski of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace tell NPR. “The timing, the fact that Russia is preoccupied, inevitably leads to what looks like an Azerbaijani attack at this point.”
The most recent skirmishes have also extended beyond the Nagorno-Karabakh region and are now occurring along the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which increases the risk of a “direct interstate conflict”. Stronski said.
To complicate the situation, Russia is a major arms exporter to Azerbaijan – as is NATO member Turkey.
In turn, Azerbaijan is a major oil and gas exporter to Europewhere many countries are grappling with supply disruptions due to the war in Ukraine and are trying to reduce their dependence on Russian energy.
World leaders are promoting peace in the region
Last week US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and urge him to “put an end to hostilities” after reports of shelling inside Armenia.
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“The minister reiterates our commitment to helping Armenia and Azerbaijan resolve their issues peacefully,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement. “He said that diplomacy was the only way forward and noted that he would remain personally engaged.”
Miroslav Jenča, UN assistant secretary-general for Europe, Central Asia and the Americas, said the UN was “deeply concerned” about the new hostilities and warned that fighting had the potential to cause loss of life. stabilize the entire region.
Meanwhile, Russia suggested it would maintain its mediator role – despite Armenia’s request for Armenia to join the conflict on its own behalf.
In a recent Eurasian forum Which includes the leaders of both Armenia and Azerbaijan, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the “latest incident” regrettable.
“Most importantly, under Russian influence, the conflict has been localized,” Putin said.
“We hope it will continue to do so.”