Nagorno-Karabakh. Azerbaijan Seeks to Take Back Control of Territory Within Its Border

The Economist October 3rd 2020 pp42-43 |Europe| Armenia and Azerbaijan| “The cauldron bubbles again” “War returns to Nagorno-Karabakh, and regional powers threaten to stir the pot”

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2244 finds this region of the world confusing and so recent skirmishes have us wondering “What’s this all about?”

Summary of the Brief Article

Nagorno-Karabakh (NK), with an irregular border being about 24 miles wide by about 60 miles long or 1,500 sq miles-1/3 the size of Los Angeles County, is populated by ethnic Armenians but is in the international border of Armenia’s eastern neighbor Azerbaijan. Control of NK was achieved by Armenia after the fall of the Soviet Union on behalf of the resident Armenians that wanted “union with Armenia or independence” over the Azerbaijani minority. “This descended into a war that saw atrocities on both sides. Some 30,000 people were killed and about 1m displaced before a ceasefire in 1994.”

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The region contains pipelines that move oil and gas from Azerbaijan through Georgia to Turkey. Russian has a defense pack with Armenia that applies only to their recognized territory and not NK but they also sell weapons to Azerbaijani. “Outside powers, including the EU, America and Russia…have called for an end to the fighting.”

Observers claim the fighting, likely initiated by a long-planned mission by Azerbaijan, currently includes infantry, heavy weaponry, helicopters and drones. Leaders in Armenia and Azerbaijan are still taking sides, Turkey is already supplying drones to Azerbaijan and reportedly is “’fully ready’ to help recover the enclave” for Azerbaijan. There’s concern that “escalation or deeper Turkish involvement could spark a confrontation with Russia.” “Turkey and Russia are already tangled up on two proxy wars, in Libya and Syria.”

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