A protestor speaks with Armenian cops as they guard the doorway to the Government House during a rally in Yerevan on September 21, 2023, following Azerbaijani military operations against Armenian separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Karen Minasyan | Afp | Getty Images
A brief-lived military operation within the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region appears to have paved the way in which for Azerbaijan to take full control of a breakaway enclave that has endured greater than three many years of conflict.
The newest-flare-up in Azerbaijan-Armenia tensions thrusts an often-overlooked conflict back into the worldwide highlight and dramatically ratchets up fears of major unrest throughout the Caucasus.
The contested mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, however it has been under de-facto Armenian control because the early Nineteen Nineties.
The landlocked South Caucasus territory declared independence from Azerbaijan in 1991 and, with the support of Armenia, has fought two wars with Azerbaijan within the space of 30 years. The Nagorno-Karabakh region is currently home to an estimated 120,000 ethnic Armenians.
Talks on Thursday between ethnic Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan got here to an end and not using a final agreement, Russia’s RIA news agency reported, citing the ethnic Armenian’s representative. Further talks are expected to happen within the near future.
It follows an abrupt 24-hour offensive by Azerbaijani forces on Tuesday that swiftly broke through ethnic Armenian lines, seized strategic positions and resulted within the give up of separatist forces.
The contested mountainous enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as a part of Azerbaijan, however it has been under de facto Armenian control because the early Nineteen Nineties.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev declared in a speech to the nation on Wednesday that “Karabakh is Azerbaijan,” saying that the military operation had succeed with an “iron fist.”
Armenia, which has typically looked to Russia as a security guarantor, said Azerbaijan’s military operation was an try to ethnically cleanse Nagorno-Karabakh, a charge Baku has denied.
Armenian authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh accused Azerbaijan of violating a cease-fire agreement, with Reuters reporting gunfire could possibly be heard within the region’s capital on Thursday. Baku has rejected this allegation as “completely false.”
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has faced calls to resign over the give up of Nagorno-Karabakh’s authorities, with hundreds of individuals on Wednesday taking to the streets of the Armenian capital Yerevan to sentence the federal government’s perceived failure.
Yerevan’s decision to stay on the sidelines through the military operation got here at a time when Armenian authorities lacked the backing to interact directly with Azerbaijan, which enjoys military superiority and has stronger backers.
Analysts told CNBC that Pashinyan’s grip on power was being “weakened by the minute” over the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, particularly on condition that the prime minister doesn’t appear to enjoy either internal or external support.
Armenians attend a rally in Yerevan on September 21, 2023, following Azerbaijani military operations against Armenian separatist forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Karen Minasyan | Afp | Getty Images
“For a really very long time, it was a war that was ignored by many,” Tinatin Japaridze, a Eurasian political risk analyst at political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, told CNBC via telephone.
“There have been flare-ups here and there over the past couple of years, with probably the most recent flare up a few days ago being probably the most obvious signal that the possibilities of returning to a war are potentially going to be imminent if proper peace talks don’t happen,” Japaridze said.
For many years, Armenia has relied on Russia as a security guarantor. Nevertheless, authorities have grown increasingly frustrated with what it sees as a scarcity of willingness from the Kremlin to support the country.
Russia, alongside Armenia, is a member of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Formed in 2002, the Moscow-led security bloc is an intergovernmental military alliance composed of six post-Soviet states. Like NATO, the CSTO relies on the principle of collective defense, meaning that an attack on one member is recognized as an attack on all members.
Armenia’s prime minister suggested earlier within the yr that Yerevan was considering withdrawing from the CSTO as a consequence of a scarcity of support from Russia. More recently, Pashinyan admitted that it had been a strategic mistake to depend solely on the Kremlin to ensure the country’s security.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev addresses to the nation after ‘anti-terror activities’ organized by the Azerbaijani army in Karabakh, which resulted in a ceasefire in Baku, Azerbaijan on September 20, 2023.
Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images
“Russia is Azerbaijan’s partner in this example. Their fundamental interest is to realize access to regional logistics, which will likely be unblocked after Karabakh returns to Azerbaijan,” Iliya Kusa, an diplomacy analyst on the Ukrainian Institute for the Future think tank, told CNBC via email.
Kusa said he believes Moscow also expects that the lack of Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan will trigger political turmoil in Armenia, potentially resulting in Pashynian’s departure from office.
“Moscow is inquisitive about replacing him with another loyal figure from the opposition camp, which might further consolidate Russia’s control over Yerevan, which had been weakened lately by Pashynian’s attempts to succeed in out to the West and by the war in Ukraine,” they added.
The Russian Embassy in London didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment.
The Kremlin has rejected any suggestion that Moscow had not done enough to stop fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and says it’s in close contact with Azerbaijan, Armenia and ethnic Armenians within the disputed territory.
The Institute for the Study of War, a U.S. think tank, said Russia’s role as a security guarantor for Armenia could also be declining because the Kremlin continued to prioritize its full-scale invasion in Ukraine and as authorities in Yerevan increasingly expressed their dissatisfaction with Moscow.
The ISW said Wednesday that Russian military bloggers also appeared to lament Moscow’s waning influence in Armenia.
Eurasia Group’s Japaridze said the consequence of peace talks between Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities was more likely to determine what happens next.
“It can be very interesting to see what happens internally in Armenia, politically speaking, with the Pashinyan leadership and whether or not he survives this. After which the opposite thing I’d watch is to what extent will the West have the ability to intervene.”
Referring to the choices available to the U.S. and European Union, Japaridze said there didn’t seem like much that they may do, apart from calls for a right away de-escalation and publicly condemning military motion.
The prospect of sanctions against Azerbaijan needs to be seen as “impossible,” she added.