The armed clashes on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which began on Monday night, resulted in the deaths of about 100 soldiers between the two armies, according to information reported by the governments of the two countries. The bombing had been halted on Tuesday morning, albeit not completely, after Russia’s mediation intervention to agree on a ceasefire.
The reasons for the hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan are due to the fact that the two countries have been competing for decades for control of Nagorno-Karabakh, a separatist territory inside Azerbaijan where the majority of the population is Armenian. The recent clashes have been the biggest since the two countries agreed on a truce in November 2020, after a six-week war won by Azerbaijan and at the end of which Armenia was forced to make heavy territorial concessions.
Even in that case, the mediation of Russia was decisive, which has since sent thousands of soldiers to Nagorno-Karabakh to preserve the peace (and they are still there).
Unlike the 2020 war, the clashes on Monday night took place in some areas along the border between the two countries, albeit not far from Nagorno-Karabakh. It is not yet clear how they started, since the two countries accuse each other of having attacked first: Armenia said it had responded to the bombing of some of its cities located along the eastern border, where the Armenian military outposts.
According to Azerbaijan, however, it was Armenia that started the bombing, and an Azerbaijani military spokesman said that in the last month there have been several movements of the Armenian army along the border that would show how it was preparing for “a military provocation. on a large scale”.
The Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, said that according to a first estimate – not definitive – at least 49 Armenian soldiers were killed in the clashes on Monday night. The Azerbaijan Defense Ministry, on the other hand, reported 50 deaths among its army members.
Although Russia announced the success of its mediation that led to the ceasefire, Pashinyan said that in reality the clashes are not quite over, even though their intensity has greatly diminished, and that on Tuesday, Azerbaijan continued to fight. carry out attacks “on one or two fronts”.
Since the start of hostilities, Russia has been a fundamental mediator between the two sides: it is a historical ally of Armenia, which is part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, a six-state military alliance led by Russia, but maintains also good relations with Azerbaijan, which is an important supplier of raw materials.CopyAMP code.
Just two weeks ago, Pashinyan met Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev in Brussels to discuss a peace treaty that went beyond the temporary truce stipulated just under two years ago. Azerbaijan demands that Armenia recognize its sovereignty over Nagorno-Karabakh, as indicated by internationally accepted borders, while Armenia wants guarantees of greater independence for its compatriots living in the region.
L’Economist speculated that Azerbaijan is taking advantage of the current international situation to force Armenia to accept an agreement on its own terms: most of Russia’s energy and attention at the moment is directed at Ukraine, and if the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan should it worsen for Russia it would be difficult to intervene with concrete actions.
Also, again due to the war in Ukraine, European countries’ dependence on Azerbaijan’s gas exports has increased a lot recently, which could press for more international support.
Nagorno-Karabakh is a mountainous area of Azerbaijan inhabited overwhelmingly by Armenians and Christians (Christianity is the prevailing religion in Armenia, while Azerbaijan is predominantly Muslim). It proclaimed itself independent in 1991, at the time when the Soviet Union dissolved: until then it was in the orbit of the Muslim Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic, which like Armenia was part of the Soviet Union.
The proclamation of independence (which is still not recognized internationally) caused serious clashes, which soon resulted in a first armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, between 1992 and 1994. In the following decades the situation remained precarious and there are there were constant clashes, until the resumption of the war two years ago.