The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

Nagorno-Karabakh, an ethnic Armenian-majority breakaway region, has been the cause of two wars between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the past three decades. Armenia gained control of the enclave after fighting in the 1990s, before Azerbaijan reclaimed some of the territory in the second war in 2020. Tensions have risen since December 2022 when Azerbaijan-backed activists blockaded the Lachin corridor, the only road connecting the enclave to Armenia.

CNN — Ethnic Armenian fighters in Nagorno-Karabakh agreed to lay down their arms after Azerbaijan launched a brief but bloody military offensive on Tuesday, handing a boost to Azerbaijan as it seeks to bring the enclave under its control. Whether this leads to a lasting peace is not yet clear. Armenia and Azerbaijan have already fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The flare-up – which killed hundreds of people, according to local authorities – alarmed the international community and raised questions over Russia’s ability to maintain its long-term role as power broker in the region.

Nagorno-Karabakh, known as Artsakh to Armenians, is a landlocked region in the Caucasus Mountains and lies within Azerbaijan’s borders. It is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but is home to around 120,000 ethnic Armenians, who make up the majority of its population and reject Azerbaijani rule. The region has its own de facto government which is backed by Armenia, but it is not officially recognized by Armenia or any other country.

Under the Soviet Union, of which Azerbaijan and Armenia are both former members, Nagorno-Karabakh became an autonomous region within the republic of Azerbaijan in 1923.

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Comment: Another unresolved conflict left over from the break up of the Soviet Union. There is no shortage of wrongs having been committed across the region. I remember my mother’s admonition to finish what’s on my plate because people are starving in Armenia. This dates back to the predations and massacres perpetrated on the Armenian people by the Ottomans. Nothing was ever solved under Soviet rule. In fact fighting broke out in 1988 as the Soviet Union weakened. Russia inherited the problems and did her best to keep a lid on the situation even during the 2020 war. 

One explanation for the current situation is put forward by Thomas Theiner. “The main reason for the current Karabakh War is that the 2020 ceasefire was signed by Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia. Armenia accepted its defeat and removed its military forces from Azerbaijani territory and returned the occupied areas outside Karabakh. But the Karabakh Armenians pretended they never lost the war and believed Putin would protect them no matter what insane positions they take. So instead of making peace the Karabakh Armenians demanded Azerbaijan hand over the formerly occupied areas, which the Karabakh Armenians had invaded and ethnically cleansed 100,000s, then pillaged and completely razed. The Karabakh Armenians refused ALL compromises and pretended they won the 2020 war, but Putin doesn’t care about them. This whole mess is SOLELY the responsibility of Karabakh’s delusional Armenians.”

Surely there’s more to this story. I did see one comment laying the blame on Stalin’s penchant to move entire ethnic groups to different areas already occupied by another group. Neither group would ever find peace. I’m not sure who was moved where in this case. At any rate, Russia was in no position to expend any military or political energy to support Armenia much less the Artsakh Armenians this time. The Kremlin has advised Armenia to accept Azerbaijan’s terms. This may very well lead to one of Russia’s frozen conflicts finally being thawed. We’ll see if it can be done without massive bloodshed, but yet another mass displacement seems to be in the cards.


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19 Responses to The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

  1. Whitewall says:

    In the mix, Armenia is Christian while Azerbaijan is predominately Muslim. Turkey will never own up to committing genocide against Armenia a century ago.

  2. Eric Newhill says:

    The Armenians are doing the right thing by backing off from this fight, although I know it is very difficult for them to make that decision.

    The Armenian mentality is much like that of the Israelis. They suffered centuries of abuse/citizenship lacking rights/pogroms inflicted by Muslim neighbors and rulers, which culminated in a genocide. Armenians in Armenia are paranoid with justification. I myself grew up in the US with survivors of the 1915 genocide (paternal grand parents) and heard all the stories and was admonished to “never forget” (how could I after hearing all the horrendous personal experiences?). It wasn’t all that long ago. And Turk/Muslim scum don’t change their spots. I get it to some extent.

    However, Nagorno-Karabakh, is a relatively new concept. Historic Armenia, where my grand parents came from, was where Turkey is now. These modern day Eastern Armenians speak a very different dialect. They are a different culture. Even their cuisine is different. They have been institutionalized after having lived under the Soviet system, for a couple generations. IMO, their claim on NK is BS. They are driven by pride, stubbornness and a fear that if they give an inch, the Turko-filth will take a mile. At bottom, that’s all there is to this situation. With solid security agreements for the Armenians, the situation can be resolved.

  3. d74 says:

    Sad. The ethnic cleansing will begin, including churches, chapels and cemeteries.

    Let’s hope Baku will have the decency to wait before starting the reunification of Nakhichevan.

    France has a large Armenian community. This country was among the first to help and welcome Armenians and other Christians who were victims of genocide by Turkey. Yes, the Armenians were not the only ones to suffer this violence. There were at least 4 other Christian communities involved. At the time, thanks to the French presence in north-eastern Syria, we were able to help the poor people starving and attacked by looters as they were deported by feet to the Euphrates.

    Let’s return to this Franco-Armenian community to say that it has remained strangely discreet. Over the last 5 years or so, everything seems to indicate that the Armenians have been caught up in an unrealistic dream, and are now in a state of prostration.

    • leith says:

      d74 –

      Baku will certainly reunify with Nakhichevan. The question is will the Azeris try to open up a land corridor through Armenia’s panhandle by force? They might get some serious push-back on that from Iran. And maybe from Russia also. But I see there are protests in Yerevan against the Kremlin. Crowds of Armenians are shouting Russia go away. Some are destroying their Russian passports.

      Whatever happened to Armenian-Russian Margarita Simonyan, propagandist for Putin on RT? AFAIK she hasn’t had her face on TV for a week or two. Out of favor now? She is not liked by many in Armenia. She was quoted on RT saying “Any Armenian who dares to criticize Russia should go and cut out his dirty tongue.”

      • Leith says:

        I spoke too soon. Simonyan is still on twitter and telegram and occasionally on Rossiya tele, not on RT though. But now she is just spouting anti-Armenian toxic talk and has stopped trashing the Ukrainians, for now at least.

        • LeaNder says:

          She is not in charge of RT anymore?

          • leith says:

            LeaNder –

            My best guess but purely speculation, is that she is still chief editor at RT even though she has not appeared lately. Perhaps because of her ethnicity she is currently being used elsewhere to report on and propagandize on events in Nagorno-Karabakh?

            We should see the answer soon if she re-appears on RT. Or not.

    • Eric Newhill says:

      The Assyrians were pretty much annihilated by the Turks. Very few survivors and they ceased to exist as a people. People also don’t seem to understand that the Turks and their hyena henchmen, the Kurds, made life miserable and, often short, for Christians for a long time – generations – prior to 1915. 1915 was just their attempt at a final solution. It was the Kurds, with an ok from the Turks, who sacked my grandmother’s village (Urfa, on the Syrian border) and killed her entire family (she lived only because she was attending a girls’ school in Aleppo. The Turks and Kurds were like the ISIS of their day, just on a grand scale and for much longer. If Mohammed hadn’t gotten drunk and screwed that baboon, there’d be no Turks.

      Anyhow, it would appear that Armenia has made the mistake of looking to the US at a time when Russia is particularly sensitive to such changes in alliance. So Russia will now go with the oil producing Azeris.

      As I said, these Eastern Armenians are a different culture than the Westerners that came to the US 100 years ago. In fact, these ex-Soviet Armenians are an embarrassment for the most part. Dependent on government, always looking for handouts, low moral character, low educational achievement. Everyone in the old Armenian community was complaining about them when they started showing up in California after 1991. The US has probably promised them some freebies to turn away from Russia. The fools.

      • d74 says:

        At that time, some Kurds were undoubtedly the baschi-bouzouk of the Turkish authorities, mass murderers and looters launched against Christian villages. There were also brief but intense outbursts of violence, separated by peaceful coexistence.

        That’s the past. In view of the multi-faith achievements of the Kurds in northern Syria, we can say that they have changed in an exemplary way.

        • TTG says:


          The Kurds are not a single united group. The Iraqi Kurds have traditionally been divided, often by war, between the Talibani and the Barzani factions since the post-WWII period. The Rojava Kurds of Syria are also quite different from the Kurds of Turkey. They all identify as Kurds, but are separated by their tribal identities and alliances. The Rojava Kurds are a unique society in their equalitarian and anarchistic politics.

          • d74 says:

            I’d say you’re right. However, it is of the utmost interest not to allow the identity between PKK and YPG/YPJ.

            The tribal struggle between Talibani and Barzani has been going on for age. It carries on.
            It’s worth noting that the Talibanis firmly support the PKK, while the Barzanis are allied with Turkey (oil smells from the Kurdistan Oil Pipeline and associated corruption).
            Since this summer, the Barzani-led KRG has been lending a hand to Turkish anti-PKK aggression on KRG soil.

            I don’t think Rojava has any anarchist tendencies, far from it. They’re certainly anti-capitalist or anti-liberal in the economic sense. I pointed out a long time ago that, despite being a long-standing ally of the USA, you’ll never see a KFC’s or McDonald’s there! In fact, they’re so poor and destitute that it wouldn’t make any sense. But they’re local managers (municipal managers, in their phraseology) of the first order. Their administrative framework is solid. In short, it’s a pragmatic world, born of adversity but tolerant to all faith.
            “Only one friend, the mountain.”

          • TTG says:


            I do mean anarchist in the best sense of the word, exactly as you describe the Rojava Kurds. Anarchy has gotten a bad rap from the crazed bomb throwers and deservedly so. That’s why the term libertarian was popularized.

        • Eric Newhill says:

          Al Assad is to be credited with the harmonious multi-faith situation in Syria; not the Kurds. Before the house of Al Assad, it was the French. To the extent that Kurds are going along with it at this time, it is only because they need allies. Once they get what they want, they will revert. Nothing there is “in the past”

      • leith says:

        Some Assyrians survived their genocide by Turkey. There are about four million of them in towns and cities in NE Syria, N Iraq, NW Iran, Sweden, Germany and Detroit. Some still speak Aramaic, the language of Jesus. In Syria Assyrians have lived in a somewhat turbulent harmony with their Kurdish neighbors for several decades despite Hakkari and other massacres of a century ago that were instigated and led by Turkish officers of the Ottoman Army. That harmony has occasionally been shattered mostly by soccer fan hooligans of both sides and occasional turf confrontations in Qamishli neighborhoods but nothing worse. Assyrians in Syria are not just providing militias to the SDF as allies of the Kurds. Their politicians also hold offices within the ruling AANES coalition. And the AANES parliament, the SDC General Federal Assembly has representatives from the Syriac Union Party, the Assyrian Democratic Party, and a delegate from the European Syriac diaspora.

        In Iraq tens of thousands of Assyrians moved to Iraqi Kurdistan in the north to get safety from the pogroms in Baghdad by Sunni and Shia extremists and ISIS after the downfall of Saddam.

        Armenians in NE Syria have similar political and military relationships with AANES and SDF.

      • leith says:

        As for the so-called “low educational achievement” within Armenia itself, I call BS. The literacy rate there is 100%. UNESCO has their tertiary (college, university) education percentage at 40%. That’s better than the US.

        • Eric Newhill says:

          You seem to be dazzled by quantity. What about quality?

          Turning their collective back on Russia and favoring the US is proof that their education system has certainly omitted history from the curriculum. Critical thinking would be another obvious gap.

          • leith says:

            Eric Newhill –

            Gaps in critical thinking are not unique to one particular country, ethnicity or culture. They are also in the Kremlin, Peking, EU and elsewhere. We certainly have them here in the USA. Especially in DC but also in my hometown and yours.

  4. drifter says:

    Closer to the present moment, Russians seem to be stopping the offensive in the Zaporizhzhia area. What will happen next?

    • TTG says:


      The Russians have been “stopping” the offensive for months now, but the Ukrainians are still making forward progress. And grinding the hell out of the Russians in the process. I still don’t think they’ll reach the Azov by Christmas.

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