On Sunday the 27th of September, the heaviest clash since 2016 erupted, creating destruction and spreading fear.
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an ethnic and territorial conflict that involves Armenia and Azerbaijan over the region of Nagorno-Karabakh and several other close districts, which are de facto controlled by the self-declared Republic of Artsakh.
Negotiations have so far failed to produce an enduring peace agreement and the fighting in the region remains one of Post-Soviet Europe’s “frozen conflicts”. While Nagorno-Karabakh is part of Azerbaijan according to international law, ethnic Armenians, who make up the large majority of the population at about 150,000 people, actually reject the Azerbaijani government. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union in the 1990s and the Azerbaijani advancement were pushed out during the Artsakh Liberation War, the region has been managing their own affairs, with support from Armenia.
At the end of this conflict, a ceasefire was signed in 1994, contributing to two decades of relative stability. However, after a four-day escalation in April 2016, another clash was initiated and is still ongoing. Both sides continue to accuse one another of starting the violence.
Where do other countries stand?
The international community is worried about the prospect of a greater war as Nagorno-Karabakh acts as a corridor for pipelines transporting oil and gas to world markets.
Turkey has already declared its support for Azerbaijan. In return, Armenia has accused Turkey of providing direct military support to help Azerbaijan gain control of the territory; a claim sternly rejected by Azerbaijan. Recently, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, called on Armenia to immediately end its “occupation” of the region and withdraw, declaring that “this was the only way that would establish peace.”
Many European countries such as; France, Germany, Italy, the United States, the European Union, and Russia urged for a ceasefire as they all have military bases situated in Armenia, nonetheless, maintaining friendly relations with Azerbaijan.
What is the situation like now?
The latest clash began on the morning of 27th September 2020, beside the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact where both factions reported military and civilian casualties. In response to that, Armenia and the Republic of Artsakh introduced martial law and total mobilization, while Azerbaijan introduced martial law and a curfew, with Vilayet Eyvazov as the commander.
The press secretary of the President of the Republic of Artsakh, Vahram Poghosyan, stated that contrasts started when Azerbaijani armed forces launched artillery and aerial strikes against the civilian population including the capital city of Stepanakert. The authorities had to take action and strongly advised the population to seek cover in bomb shelters.
Following the Azerbaijani’s use of force, the Armenian armed forces commenced shelling from mortars, weapons, and artillery on the positions of the Azerbaijan army along the frontline aiming at their settlements in the zone. By the afternoon Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence announced the retaking of seven of the villages in Nagorno-Karabakh. They also reported that the Azerbaijani Military Command proposed the Armenian one not to resist and to surrender so that the Armenian Army would not be completely destroyed and the death toll would not increase in the establishment of Aghdara, one of the main lines and not to multiply the number of deaths, also declaring that the treatment of prisoners of war and civilians would be realized in agreement with the conditions of the Geneva Convention and international humanitarian law. This has to be the worst Armenian-Azerbaijani crisis in recent years. It’s a conflict that has left around 30,000 dead and with Armenian separatists taking control of the Azerbaijani territory, the number continues to grow.