What Is Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict That Has Claimed 200 Lives? Explained

New Delhi: Azerbaijan on Wednesday claimed victory in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and reclaimed the breakaway region after Armenian separatists agreed to a ceasefire. The conflict between the two nations has reportedly resulted in 200 deaths.

What is Nagorno-Karabakh?

Nagorno-Karabakh, also known as Artsakh, is a mountainous region in the southern Caucasus Mountains. It is internationally recognised as part of Azerbaijan, but its population is predominantly ethnic Armenian. The region has its own government, which is close to Armenia but not officially recognised by the United Nations or any other country.

Armenians, who are Christian, and Azerbaijanis, who are mostly Turkic Muslims, both claim deep historical ties to the region. The conflict between the two peoples dates back more than a century.

History of Conflict 

Armenia and Azerbaijan became constituent republics of the Soviet Union in 1922. As the Soviet Union dissolved towards the end of the 20th century, war erupted between Armenians and Azerbaijanis over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The conflict lasted from 1988 to 1994 and resulted in the deaths of around 30,000 people and the forced displacement of over a million more.

In 2020, Azerbaijan launched a military offensive, sparking the Second Karabakh War. Azerbaijan rapidly overwhelmed Armenian forces and secured a decisive victory in 44 days, regaining control of the seven surrounding districts and about one-third of Nagorno-Karabakh. An estimated 6,500 people were killed in the conflict.

Peace finally prevailed in the region through a Russia-brokered ceasefire agreement. Russia deployed 1,960 peacekeepers to the Lachin Corridor, a vital road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, which was no longer under Armenian control.

2023 Escalation 

On September 19 this year, Azerbaijan launched a major military operation in the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Claiming to be responding to a terrorist threat, the Azerbaijani defence ministry alleged that Armenian land mines had killed two Azerbaijani civilians and four police officers — an allegation disputed by the Armenian government.

Azerbaijan and the ethnic Armenian authorities agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Russian peacekeepers, one day after Azerbaijan launched its military operation.

“Azerbaijan restored its sovereignty as a result of successful anti-terrorist measures in Karabakh,” Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev said, as quoted by news agency AFP.

Peace Talks 

Azerbaijan will hold peace talks with Armenian separatists today. The peace talks will take place in Yevlakh, more than 200 kilometres west of Azerbaijan capital Baku. The peace talks come against the backdrop of the UN Security Council calling for an emergency session over the conflict today.

Russian peacekeepers to mediate Azerbaijan-Armenia peace talks, Russian President Vladiir Putin said.