A decades-old conflict has culminated in almost a full-scale war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the Caucasus. Fierce fighting continued for the second day in south-eastern Europe resulting in dozens of deaths on Monday. The cause of the clash is the dispute over control of the mountainous region of Nagorno-Karabakh. The disputed territory, which is recognized as part of Azerbaijan slipped into the control of the ethnic Armenians since the end of 1994 war. Tens of thousands of people lost their lives and a million others were forced to flee their homes during the war.
On Monday night, Nagorno-Karabakh administration, the death of 26 of its servicemen bringing the number to over 80. Other countries fear that the latest row of fighting could transcend the boundaries of Caucasus region and turn into a bigger conflict, drawing neighbors and allied powers like Turkey, Russia and Iran into the war. However, they know that engaging both parties and a dialogue between the two would be the only way to bring peace to the region, giving space for major gas and oil pipelines. Both Azerbaijan and Armenian side have alleged each other for the escalation on Sunday.
Both nations announced they had mobilized their forces and put some areas under martial law. The fresh episode of military confrontation is the heaviest seen in the conflict since 2016 border skirmishes when at least 200 people lost their lives.
Turkey and Russia
Turkey has voiced its support for Azerbaijan while Russia – having military installations in Armenia but also hosts cordial ties with Azerbaijan – appealed for an immediate ceasefire and called on both parties to show restraint. Armenia has accused Turkey of providing direct military support and weapons to help Azerbaijan gain control of territory – a claim Baku denies. On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan urged Armenia to immediately end its “occupation” of the region and withdraw, adding this was the only way to ensure peace in the region. Erdogan’s chief adviser, Ilnur Cevik, also confirmed Turkey has given a green signal to its Azeri allies to go as far as they need to.
Azerbaijan and Armenia
A spokesperson for Azerbaijan’s presidential administration talking to BBC said Baku was taking “counter-measures” against provocations by Armenia. While Armenian Foreign minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan held Azeris responsible for sabotaging a peaceful settlement to conflict and asserted his nation must defend the area.
Latest from the ground
Authorities have confirmed at least 16 casualties while 100 people have been wounded as of Monday in Nagorno-Karabakh. Armenia has reported the injured toll to e 200. Azerbaijan said two Azeri civilians lost their lives on Monday following the deaths of five people of one family earlier on Sunday. It added that 30 civilians were injured. Nagorno-Karabakh administration claimed their forces had regained some territory encroached by Azeri troops on Sunday. Meanwhile, Baku on Monday, declared that it had occupied strategically important points in the disputed area. In July, at least 16 people were killed in cross-border clashes instigating the biggest protests in the streets of capital Baku with people demanding the recapture of their land.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said he was “extremely concerned” and called on both sides to go to immediate ceasefire. Russian foreign minister contacted both Baku and Yerevan. France, a home to large Armenian community demanded immediate ceasefire and dialogue while Iran offered solicitation between its Armenian and Azeri neighbors. US President Donald Trump said the US was trying to stop the violence in the disturbed region.