Europe With Russia distracted in Ukraine, Azerbaijan launches attack on Armenian enclave
The Current Situation
Azerbaijan has launched a military offensive in the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, escalating the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia. The majority ethnic Armenian territory, located within Azerbaijan, has been a source of conflicts and wars between the two countries since the late Soviet period. Azerbaijan’s military has blamed the deaths of soldiers and civilians on “Armenian separatists,” a charge that Armenia has dismissed as a provocation.
Azerbaijan’s current military offensive has not been met with opposition from Russian peacekeepers, who were installed in the region in 2020 after Moscow negotiated an end to large-scale hostilities. Azerbaijan has also received military support from Turkey, its traditional ally, which has filled a power void in the region as Russia has focused its resources on the war in Ukraine.
The International Response
The United States has expressed deep concern over Azerbaijan’s military actions and has called on Azerbaijan to immediately cease these actions. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken stated that the actions are worsening the humanitarian situation in Nagorno-Karabakh and undermining prospects for peace. The U.S. has called for an immediate end to hostilities and for respectful dialogue between Azerbaijan and representatives of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Russia’s foreign ministry has called for both sides to return to a ceasefire and find a diplomatic solution to the conflict. However, Russia’s repeated failure to provide assistance to Armenia, despite a collective security agreement, is causing a shift in Armenia’s reliance on Moscow for security. Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has recently referred to Armenia’s traditional reliance on Russia as a “strategic mistake.”
The Role of Western Powers
In recent months, Western powers have increasingly taken on the role of mediating a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, usurping traditional Russian efforts. Peace talks earlier this year led the leadership in Yerevan, the Armenian capital, to declare willingness to recognize Nagorno-Karabakh as belonging to Azerbaijan, provided security guarantees were offered to ethnic Armenians living there.
However, Azerbaijan has used a partial blockade of humanitarian goods, military superiority, and Russia’s preoccupation with the war in Ukraine to dictate the terms of negotiations. Russia’s failure to come to Armenia’s aid is contributing to a shift in Armenia’s allegiance towards the West. Currently, 85 U.S. troops are carrying out joint drills with Armenian forces as part of a NATO peacekeeping training mission. Armenia’s government has also expressed support for joining the International Criminal Court, which has a warrant out for the arrest of Russian President Vladimir Putin over his actions in Ukraine.
Analysis and Editorial
The escalation of the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh underscores the complex geopolitical dynamics in the region. Azerbaijan’s military offensive, coupled with Russia’s distraction in Ukraine and Turkey’s military support, poses a significant challenge for Armenia. The lack of support from Russia, despite a collective security agreement, is driving Armenia to reassess its reliance on Moscow for security.
This conflict also highlights the changing role of Western powers in the region. Western-backed peace talks and joint military drills with Armenia indicate a shifting alignment of interests. The West’s increased involvement in mediating the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is a testament to its desire to exert influence and shape outcomes in the region.
In order to prevent further escalation and protect the lives of civilians caught in the crossfire, it is crucial for all parties involved to prioritize a diplomatic solution. Azerbaijan should cease its military offensive immediately, while Armenia should refrain from any actions that may further escalate the conflict.
The international community, including the United States and Russia, should intensify their efforts to mediate and facilitate peaceful negotiations between Azerbaijan and Armenia. This includes addressing the key concerns of both sides and finding a mutually acceptable resolution that ensures the rights and security of all ethnic groups in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Moreover, it is important for Russia to reevaluate its priorities and fulfill its obligations as a guarantor of security in the region. Continued failure to provide assistance to Armenia risks further alienating Armenia from its traditional ally. Russia should recognize the changing dynamics in the region and prioritize stability and peace.
Ultimately, a durable and just resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict requires a multilateral approach that involves all relevant stakeholders, including Azerbaijan, Armenia, Russia, Turkey, and the international community. It is essential that all parties commit to respectful dialogue and engage in meaningful negotiations to achieve a lasting peace in Nagorno-Karabakh.
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The image is for illustrative purposes only and does not depict the actual situation.