A Day Into Military Assault, Victory Is Declared

Ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh agree to ceasefire after Azerbaijan's major gains: report
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2023 1:55 PM CDT
Updated Sep 20, 2023 10:05 AM CDT
Another War Is Brewing in the World
Flames rise over an area that Azerbaijan says hosts Armenian forces' positions in the breakaway territory of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan.   (Defense Ministry of Azerbaijan via AP)
UPDATE Sep 20, 2023 10:05 AM CDT

One day into its military assault on the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan has declared victory. The region's ethnic Armenian leadership agreed to a ceasefire early Wednesday after Azerbaijani forces "made major advances" in the region whose estimated 100,000 Armenian residents have long maintained autonomy from Azerbaijan, Politico reports. Azerbaijan's Ministry of Defense said the opposing side had agreed to "disarm completely." Azerbaijan has said Karabakh Armenians will receive rights and security if they accept Azerbaijani citizenship. Otherwise, they should flee to Armenia. The two sides are expected to meet to discuss "issues of re-integration" on Thursday in Yevlakh.

Sep 19, 2023 1:55 PM CDT

Two former Soviet republics went to war less than three years ago over a disputed region, and it appears they're on the brink of another full-scale conflict, reports the AP. The dispute is between Azerbaijan and neighboring Armenia over the region known as Nagorno-Karabakh. As the BBC explains, the latter is located entirely within the borders of Azerbaijan, but it's populated mostly by ethnic Armenians. The two nations have fought previously over the region, first in the early 1990s when Armenia took control of it after the fall of the USSR, and again in 2020, when Azerbaijan reclaimed it. Part of the convoluted mix: Azerbaijan is backed by Turkey, while Armenia is a longtime ally of Russia, though relations have soured of late over the Ukraine war.

  • Russia's role: Moscow is supposed to be keeping the peace between the two nations, a pledge it made after the last war, but its own war with Ukraine has "distracted" from that, as the New York Times puts it.
  • Shelling: On Tuesday, Azerbaijan launched artillery fire onto Nagorno-Karabakh in what it calls an "anti-terrorist" campaign, per CNN. The de facto capital of Stepanakert was hit particularly hard, though details about casualties and damages were scant in the early going. The shelling is the culmination of months of simmering tensions.
  • Key road: A single road, called the Lachin Corridor, links Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, explains Politico. Russian peacekeepers are supposed to be keeping it open, but an "emboldened Azerbaijan" has largely taken control of it in recent months, per the Times. That leaves Nagorno-Karabakh essentially cut off from supplies of food and fuel, and it's raising fears of ethnic cleansing.
  • Diplomacy falters: "It looks like it could be, unfortunately, terrible—war number three, something that people have been fearing but hoping to avoid with diplomacy in the last few weeks and months," Thomas de Waal, a regional specialist at the Carnegie Europe foundation, tells the AP. Politico notes that the conflict also complicates Europe's plan to court Azerbaijan as an alternative fuel source to Russia.
(Read more Azerbaijan stories.)

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