The fire in the Caucasus: how has Nagorno-Karabakh conflict


On the night of 2 April in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict began large-scale military activities. The parties to the conflict have reported dozens of victims of the military, the deaths of civilians and two downed helicopters of the Azerbaijani air forces.

Version of Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia

An armed clash between Karabakh and Azerbaijani forces began on the night of 2 April, said a source in the Armenian defense Ministry “Interfax”. He said that the Armenian Armed forces in the country shot down the helicopter, which belongs to the air force of Azerbaijan. According to the information of the Armenian side, the Azerbaijani military with tanks, artillery and air forces tried to penetrate the defensive line of the defense army of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

Press Secretary of the Armenian defense Minister Artsrun Hovhannisyan stated that during the clashes both sides suffered losses, but Azerbaijan has killed more military.

In the middle of the day, the press service of the defense Army of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic said that fighting along the line of contact, particularly active operations are going on the southern (Hadrut) and North-Eastern (Martakert) direction. According to the revised data of the Karabakh party, managed to bring down the South-Eastern direction, two tanks and two drones of the enemy. On the outskirts of the locality Leonard the special forces of the defense Army of Nagorno Karabakh was discovered and destroyed reconnaissance and sabotage group of the enemy, leaving killed, retreated (this was reported by the Armenian defense Ministry).

A source in the defense Ministry of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) reported “Interfax” that the pre-operative data, killed from 40 to 50 soldiers of Azerbaijan. “The information is not yet verified, but at this point enters this number,” — said the Agency interlocutor.

The Agency “Sputnik-Armenia” reports of the death of one teenager and wounding two in the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Amid the intensifying conflict in Armenia began to spread rumors about mobilization, which has denied in his Facebook press Secretary of the Armenian defense Ministry Artsrun Hovhannisyan.

Version Of Azerbaijan

The Ministry of defense of Azerbaijan stated that the country’s military acted in response to offensive activities of the opponent. As a result of counterattack of the Azerbaijani army on the frontline breakthrough the front line of defense of the Armenian army liberated several strategic heights and towns, said the Ministry of defense of Azerbaijan.

In the battle were destroyed Armenian tanks, 15 guns and reinforced engineering structures, destroyed and injured more than 100 servicemen of the Armenian armed forces, Trend news Agency cites the press service of the Ministry. Killed 12 troops of Azerbaijan was shot down one Mi-24 was damaged on a mine one tank.

The biggest clash in 20 years

First Deputy defense Minister of Armenia David Tonoyan said that the enemy has taken unprecedented since 1994 actions.

While this is the biggest wave in the whole period since may 1994, agrees Sergey Markedonov, associate Professor of the Department of foreign regional studies and foreign policy at Russian state University for Humanities. “The number of incidents is growing one year, today’s aggravation is not a sudden situation. In 2014 for the first time since the freezing conflict was the shooting down of a helicopter (Azerbaijan shot down the helicopter of the defense army of Nagorno Karabakh), in early December last year for the first time tanks were used. We see raising the bar violence. The most dangerous thing that clashes are not only along the border of Nagorno-Karabakh with Azerbaijan and along the border with Armenia,” says Markedonov. “To talk about the war while I would be abstaining until we see the attacks, the destruction of military equipment, the people perish, but not the open frontal collision”, — the expert specifies.

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The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, gaining in 1987-1988, escalated into full-scale military conflict in 1991-1994. They have led to de facto independence of Nagorno-Karabakh from Azerbaijan. Baku considers the territories that are occupied NKR, occupied. In 1994, the parties signed the Bishkek Protocol on ceasefire. The conflict has since remained unresolved, the line of contact occur regularly armed incidents. Negotiations on peaceful settlement are conducted on the lines of the OSCE Minsk group, co-chaired by Russia, USA and France. It also includes Belarus, Germany, Italy, Portugal, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland, Turkey.

The peace process

Last year, the negotiating process intensified, in particular in autumn in Yerevan and Baku was visited by Russian foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. According to the results of his visit to Yerevan, “Kommersant” wrote that one of the options of the peace plan now under discussion is as follows: Armenians return to Azerbaijan the control over the majority of captured Azerbaijani territories around Karabakh, while maintaining the Lachin corridor linking the Republic of mountainous Armenia, and possibly another corridor.

Baku, in this plan, does not officially recognize Karabagh to be independent, but agrees not to force the issue militarily. Guarantee this could be the placement in the conflict zone of international peacekeepers (the UN or CSTO), and the demilitarization returned to Azerbaijan areas.

The call from Moscow

The President of Russia Vladimir Putin was the first international leaders condemned the escalation of the situation. Putin called for an immediate ceasefire and exercise restraint, said the day his press Secretary Dmitry Peskov. He recalled that in recent times has undertaken a number of efforts to resolve the conflict. The Ministers of foreign Affairs and defence of Russia Sergey Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu on 2 April held talks with his counterparts in Azerbaijan and Armenia.

Russia is an ally of Armenia, including on the Organization of collective security Treaty (CSTO), in Gyumri, the Russian military base. However, Moscow sells weapons not only Armenia, but also Azerbaijan, causing discontent in Yerevan. At meetings with President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, President Putin called relations with his country’s “friendship” and “trust”.

“Everything must be decided through negotiations. The Azerbaijani party’s actions in this case lead to escalation and conflict,” said a spokesman for the CSTO Vladimir Zainetdinov “Interfax-AVN”. Armenia this year is chairing the CSTO.

The aggravation is not profitable

Now neither Russia nor the US nor the EU do not need defrosting of the Karabakh conflict, Markedonov says: “the Key players will do everything possible to stop it, not in their interest to the complication of the agenda when overwhelmed by other issues.”

“The most dangerous thing is that Nagorno-Karabakh could become another field of the real struggle between Russia and Turkey,” warns an expert on political processes in post-Soviet countries Arkady Dubnov. Ankara is headed by such a strong leader like erdoğan will not be able to support its allies in Baku, and this in turn can cause a reaction in Moscow, which is allied with Armenia, he says.

The conflict escalated during the absence of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan Serzh Sargsyan and Ilham Aliyev in their countries. Both were in Washington, where he participated in the nuclear security summit at the invitation of U.S. President Barack Obama. There was also Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

According to the Armenian media, was preparing a meeting between Sargsyan and Aliyev. However, it did not take place. However, all three had separate meetings with the leadership of the United States.

The outbreak of hostilities may be due to the absence of the presidents, says Dubnov: the history knows cases when some of the opponents of the attempts by military means to test the ability of the opponent to resist and readiness to defend its allies in case of success the President will be satisfied, and in case of failure, blame it on the organizer. On the line of contact, there are no independent observers to obtain objective information from the area is impossible, the expert notes. “The escalation began because the contact line is no reliable, independent sources of information, the presence of which warn against such brutal actions,” he concludes.