Armenia and Azerbaijan continue dispute over southern Caucasus region
By Sophie Boulter, Staff Writer
A dispute over the Nagorno-Karabakh territory has erupted into a bitter, ongoing conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This conflict, a continuation of decades-long tension, has so far included trench warfare and drone strikes.
The ceasefire brokered Sunday did not last. On Sunday, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev threatened to further escalate his offensive, citing continued aggression from Armenia.
The conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan started in the era of the Soviet Union. The two countries were amicable neighbors until the late twentieth century, when disputes over the mountain region of Nagorno-Karabakh erupted into protests, riots and war.
Armenia conquered Nagorno-Karabakh after conflict broke out in the 1990s. Hostile memories of the war went unaddressed by either country in subsequent decades.
Now, Azerbaijan vows to recapture Nagorno-Karabakh in this new war over the region.
Armenia and Azerbaijan are suffering the steepest casualty rates since their war in the 1990s. Both countries accuse each other of targeting civilians in military offensives.
Over 500 people have died in less than a month of fighting, including over 60 civilians.
The dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh is the “century’s deadliest conflict in the southern Caucasus region,” according to the New York Times. The Caucasus region is between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea and is sandwiched between Europe and Asia.
Allies of both Azerbaijan and Armenia quickly became involved in the conflict, with some publicly taking sides.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was the first world leader to declare his country’s support for a country involved, throwing his support behind Azerbaijan. Turkey has close historical, cultural and ethnic ties to Azerbaijan.
Turkey also is a military ally of the United States. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan expressed concerns to U.S. President Donald Trump that American-made F-16 jets could be used against Armenians in the conflict.
Russian President Vladimir Putin tentatively supports Armenia because Russia and Armenia have a mutual-defense treaty. Still, Russia has been eager to broker peace between the two regions in recent statements..
According to the Guardian, Russia wants to avoid an escalation of conflict in the region because it is already dealing with other tensions in its “backyard.”
These tensions include ongoing protests in Belarus against Alexander Lukashenko, who was elected to the presidency of Belarus in an election widely perceived as fraudulent.
French President Emmanuel Macron has led the international effort to promote a peace settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh. Macron called upon Putin and Trump to release a joint statement on the conflict.
“We mourn the victims and express our condolences to the families of those killed and wounded,” the presidents said in Thursday’s joint statement.
Some have criticized Trump for not taking a more active role in promoting a peaceful settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The 1.5 million strong Armenian Americans have pushed for Trump to condemn Azerbaijan for the fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh.