Russia urges immediate halt to Karabakh bloodshed, hostilities. 10 points

Russia urges immediate halt to Karabakh bloodshed, hostilities. 10 points

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  • September 20, 2023
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Azerbaijan has launched ‘anti-terrorist activities’ in the Nagorno-Karabakh region saying it wanted to restore constitutional order and drive out what it said were Armenian troops, a move that could foreshadow a new war. US has called on Azerbaijan to halt the military action it launched into Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, while Russia has urged both the sides in the conflict to stop the bloodshed. Fear has erupted as that another full-scale conflict with Armenia could be underway, less than three years after a war that killed more than 6,000 people.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held calls with both Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, urging Baku to de-escalate the situation. Russia is seeking to preserve its influence in the region, crisscrossed with oil and gas pipelines, in the face of greater activity from Turkey, which backs Azerbaijan. Moscow called early on Wednesday on both sides to stop the bloodshed and hostilities and return to the implementation of the 2020 ceasefire agreement.

The International Committee of the Red Cross had arranged a shipment of about 20 tons of flour into Nagorno-Karabakh this week from Armenia as well as medical supplies via a different road leading from Azerbaijan-held territory. Officials in Nagorno-Karabakh, however, had previously refused aid traveling via the latter route, claiming it was part of Azerbaijan’s staretgy to absorb the region. Although the shipments suggested the crisis could be easing slowly, Azerbaijan’s report of military and civilian mine deaths on Tuesday escalated tensions and Azerbaijan then launched the artillery operation.

Here are 10 points you need to know

1. Nagorno-Karabakh, with a population of about 120,000, is an ethnic Armenian region of Azerbaijan that has been a flashpoint since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The region and sizable surrounding territories came under the control of ethnic Armenian forces backed by the Armenian military at the 1994 end of a separatist war. Azerbaijan regained the territories and parts of Nagorno-Karabakh itself in fighting in 2020.

2. Armenians, who are Christian, claim a long presence in the area, dating back to several centuries before Christ. Azerbaijan, whose inhabitants are mostly Turkic Muslims also claims deep historical ties to the region.

3. As per Reuters report, Karabakh separatist authorities said 27 people had been killed, including two civilians, and more than 200 injured due to Baku’s military action on Tuesday.

4. The First Karabakh War between Armenians and their Azeri neighbours broke out from 1988 until 1994 wherein over a million people were displaced, and about 30,000 people were killed.

5. Later in 2020, a 44 day war erupted where Azerbaijan began a military operation that became the Second Karabakh War, swiftly breaking through Armenian defences. It won a resounding victory in 44 days, taking back the seven districts and about a third of Nagorno-Karabakh itself.

6. Analysts have claim that although an ongoing negotiations, mediated variously by the European Union, the United States, and Russia, have brought the two parties closer than they have been in years for a permanent peace treaty, a definitive agreement is still elusive, as reported by Reuters.

7. The most sensitive issue is the status of the 120,000 ethnic Armenians in Karabakh, whose rights and security Armenia says must be guaranteed. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has said Armenia recognises the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, but Baku says it is not certain the assertion was made in good faith and accuses Armenia of fuelling separatism.

8. Meanwhile, the military operation in Azerbaijan has the full support by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. In an online statement, the Turkish President said, “We support the steps taken by Azerbaijan with whom we act together with the motto of one nation, two states to defend its territorial integrity,” as quoted by Aljazeera.

9. Meanwhile The European Union has condemned the military escalation in Karabakh. While issuing a statement, in a post on X, EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said, “The EU condemns the military escalation in Karabakh & deplores loss of lives. We call for the immediate cessation of hostilities & Azerbaijan to stop the current military activities. Commitment by all sides is required to work towards negotiated outcomes.” 

10. United Nations has called the “very concerning” and has called for an immediate end to the fighting. In a statement, UN Spokesman Stéphane Dujarric wrote, “The Secretary-General calls in the strongest terms for an immediate end to the fighting, de-escalation, and stricter observance of the 2020 ceasefire and principles of international humanitarian law. He remains concerned about the humanitarian situation on the ground and reiterates his call for urgent steps to facilitate full-fledged access for humanitarian actors to people in need. He calls on the parties to refocus on efforts to help build confidence and secure long-term peace in the region.”

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