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Nagorno-Karabakh / Republic of Artsakh - 2020

Nagorno-Karabakh Azerbaijan significantly increased its defense capabilities, and it's showed on the battlefield in 2020. Muslim Azerbaijan and majority-Christian Armenia, two former Soviet republics in the Caucasus, are locked in a decades-long territorial dispute over the Armenia-backed secessionist enclave Nagorno-Karabakh [aka Republic of Artsakh].

Rich in history, the mountain region gets its name from ‘kara’ - meaning black and ‘bak’ meaning garden in Persian. It’s not difficult to see how the region gets its name. It has copious amounts of mahogany trees, mineral deposits of different kinds including cobalt, uranium, mercury, gold, iron and even marble deposits of different hues. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, Armenian separatists seized it in a move supported by Yerevan. An ensuing war left 30,000 dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes. In April 2016, some 110 people were killed in the most serious fighting in years. A flare-up along the border in July 2020 claimed the lives of 17 soldiers from both sides. Azerbaijan fighting within its own borders while Armenia is fighting within the borders of Azerbaijan. Armenia is simultaneously claiming they were attacked while fighting over the border inside of Azerbaijan.

Turkey, with ambitions to be regional powerbroker in the Caucasus, has thrown its weight behind oil-rich and Turkic-speaking Azerbaijan. armedia harbors hostility towards Turkey over the massacres of some 1.5 million Armenians under the Ottoman Empire during World War I. Russia, which maintains close ties with Armenia, is the major powerbroker in the region. Armenia relies on Russian support and military guarantees because its defence budget is overshadowed by Azerbaijan's spending on arms, which is fueled by oil exports. France, Russia and the United States have mediated peace efforts as the "Minsk Group" but the last big push for a peace deal collapsed in 2010.

The Armenian Ministry of Defense said a 29 September 2020 a Turkish F-16 from Ganja airbase (in Azerbaijan) shot down an Armenian Su-25 fighter jet, resulting in the death of the pilot. "?oday, at around 10:30 am, F-16 fighters of the Turkish Air Force took off from the "Ganja" airport from the Republic of Azerbaijan and ensured the delivery of bombing and missile strikes against settlements and ground units of the Armenian Armed Forces". Turkish officials have denied the accusation, calling it "absolutely untrue." Azerbaijani defence ministry spokesman Vagif Dyargahly also called the claim "yet another lie of Armenian propaganda."

Armenia had not yet decided whether to close the airspace after the downing of its warplane. Some observers thoguth this rather suggested that its Su-25 crashed of its own accord and was not shot down by an intruding Turkish F-16. Armenia had said it was prepared to use the Iskander ballistic missile system if Turkey deployed F-16 fighters to support the Azerbaijan offensive.

Nagorno-Karabakh /  Republic of Artsakh The clashes on 27 September 2020, code-named Operation Iron Fist by Azerbaijan, saw Azerbaijan and Armenian separatists accuse each other of igniting the fighting that left both sides with casualties, including civilians. With each side blaming the other for the latest fighting, world leaders have urged calm as fears rise of a full-scale conflict that could draw in regional powers Russia and Turkey. Azerbaijani forces attacked rebel positions using heavy artillery, while Azerbaijan's defence ministry accused separatist forces of shelling civilian targets in the town of Terter.

On 28 September 2020 the Armenian ambassador to Russia said Turkey had sent around 4,000 fighters from Turkish-controlled northern Syria to Azerbaijan and that they were involved in hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. Fighters of Russian PMCs, participating in hostilities in Donbass and Syria, were ready to go to Artsakh for a war on the side of Armenia. One of the fighters of the Russian PMC said that “as soon as the signal arrives,” they are ready to move to NagornoKarabakh. The Vice president of Azerbaijan says that the allegations of fighters from Syria being transported to Azerbaijan are "nonsense and propaganda". Armenian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying "Turkish military specialists are fighting side by side with Azerbaijan, using Turkish-made weapons, including drones and military aircrafts". The Press Secretary of the Armenian MoD said that they had repelled a "tank attack" launched by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. The press secretary claims that Azerbaijan lost "more than 10 armored vehicles".

The deputy commander of the Artsakh Defense army said that "According to preliminary data, the losses of the Artsakh Defense Army are 48 dead, and over 200 wounded". In addition, he claimed that more than 400 Azerbaijani Armed Forces soldiers had been killed. He also claimed that 36 Azerbaijani drones & 47 armored vehicles had been destroyed. The Armenian Ministry of Defense says that all positions at the "southern axis" has been restored & low-intensity clashes are currently ongoing. Intense clashes are currently happening on the "northern axis".

Armenian Defense Ministry spokesperson Shushan Stepanyan reported "During night battles continued with different intensity. Early in morning, Azerbaijan resumed its offensive operations, using artillery, armored vehicles, TOS heavy artillery system." Armenia's Defense Ministry accused Azerbaijan of launching a bombing campaign against civilian targets. Yerevan said the military responded by shooting down four of Azerbaijan's military helicopters, as well as 15 drones and 10 tanks, a claim Azerbaijan's Defense Ministry denied. Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in a televised address that Azerbaijan's "authoritarian regime has once again declared war on the Armenian people." He added "We are on the brink of a full-scale war in the South Caucasus, which might have unpredictable consequences ... We are ready for this war."

Both countries declared martial law. The president of Azerbaijan declared a partial military mobilization in the country as part of a presidential decree. Armenia began a general mobilization. The breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh immediately declared "martial law and total military mobilization," Karabakh's president Araik Harutyunyan told an emergency parliament session. He said that those liable for military service had been called up for duty.

By 29 September 2020, the Armenian Defense Ministry reported a total of 137 armored vehicles and 72 drones destroyed, and 790 casualties among Azerbaijani forces. The death toll from three days of heavy fighting between Azerbaijan and Armenia over a disputed territory reached 100, including 16 civilians. As the crisis between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalates, diplomatic efforts are underway to stop the fighting. France is calling for an urgent meeting of the Minsk Group, led by Russia, France and the US, to find a solution to the long-running conflict.

Turkey is “fully ready” to help Azerbaijan take back its separatist region of Nagorno-Karabakh, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s top press aide said Tuesday before a UN Security Council debate on the crisis. “Turkey will be fully committed to helping Azerbaijan take back its occupied lands and to defending their rights and interests under international law,” Fahrettin Altun said, adding that Turkey hoped the UN meeting “will establish a strong foundation for a solution”.

Heavy shelling between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces was reported 01 October 2020 around the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region as fighting raged for a fifth day, with both sides refusing to back down and heed international calls for talks. Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said its forces had carried out “crushing artillery strikes against Armenian forces’ positions in the occupied territories”, throughout the night. Azerbaijan’s ministry of defence claims that at least 2,300 Armenian soldiers were killed and wounded since the fighting broke out.

Azerbaijan’s military has significantly expanded its drone fleet, most recently with Turkey's increasingly sought-after Bayraktar TB2 unmanned drone. It has already seen action, destroying a number of Armenian mobile surface-to-air sites and tanks. Armenian-backed forces in the occupied Karabakh have also destroyed multiple Azerbaijani tanks and military vehicles using largely Russian-produced anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). The Azerbaijani military says that it destroyed up to 200 Armenian tanks, more than 228 artillery installations, 300 air defense systems, 6 command and control points and 1 S-300 air defense system

The Azerbaijani army freed strategic points in the western Agdhare province from Armenian occupation, the country's Defence Ministry said on 02 October 2020. The ministry said that the Azerbaijani army forced the Armenian army to withdraw from the Jabrayil-Fuzuli region, adding that some strategic hills in Aghdara's Madagiz region were also retaken. Armenia must withdraw troops from the occupied Karabakh region in order to end days of fighting, Azerbaijan has said after Armenia announced it was ready to discuss a ceasefire. "If Armenia wants to see an end of this escalation of the situation, the ball is in the court of Armenia," Hikmet Hajiyev, foreign affairs aide to the president of Azerbaijan, told reporters during a press conference on 02 October 2020. "Armenia must ends its occupation" of Karabakh, he said. "Enough is enough."

Armenia says it is willing to engage in peace talks as international leaders continue to call for an immediate end to fighting with Azerbaijani forces over the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh amid concerns the flare-up in violence may grow into a full-blown war drawing in regional powers. The Foreign Ministry in Yerevan said in a statement on October 2 that it welcomed a joint call the previous day from France, Russia, and the United States -- the co-chairs of the so-called Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), which has tried to mediate the conflict since the early 1990s -- for an immediate cessation of hostilities between the forces fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh.

While the Azerbaijani side had not demonstrated any miracles in ground warfare, it has once again demonstrated a successful employment of the concept of the wide-scale usage of unmanned aerial vehicles: reconnaissance, aerial targets, loitering munitions and drones carrying bombs and missiles. This allows the Azerbaijani side, with an apparent help from Turkey, to successfully detect, uncover and strike Armenian artillery and fortified positions. Regardless the reality of Armenian claims about the supposed usage of Turkish F-16 jets to cover the employed UAVs, the Azerbaijani side has gained full control over the air dimension.

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On October 4, the government of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic announced that Armenian forces had destroyed the military air base near Azerbaijan’s Ganja. This air base, according to the Armenian side, hosted F-16 fighter jets from Turkey. Azerbaijan indirectly confirmed the incident but insisted that Armenian strikes hit Ganja city only. In its own turn, the Armenian military denounced the Azerbaijani claim saying that only the military base that was hit. In the comments from October 4, Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev claimed that Azerbaijani forces are “chasing” Armenians like “dogs” and demanded the full withdrawal of Armenian forces, the Armenian recognition of Karabakh as a sovereign Azerbaijani territory and an official apology from Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to the Azerbaijani nation.

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev on 04 October 2020 set conditions for a halt to fighting over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region that would be near-impossible for Armenia to accept. In a fiery address to the nation as fighting raged between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces, Aliyev warned: "The leadership of Armenia should think carefully before it is too late."

“They must commit to withdrawal of the troops from our territory. They must give us a timetable of withdrawal from occupied territories. Their Prime Minister, who says that Karabakh is Armenia should now say that Karabakh is not Armenia. And after that, of course, we will be ready to put an end to hostility and to restore the ceasefire regime,” Aliyev said.

Azerbaijan was slowly but steadily gaining an upper hand in the war with Armenia for the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region. As of October 5, the Azerbaijani military, supported by Turkish military advisers, specialists and intelligence, captured the towns of Jabrayil, Mataghis and Talysh after heavy clashes with Armenian forces. Azerbaijani sources also report the control over multiple villages including Ashagi Abdulrahmanli, Mehdili, Chakhirli, Ashagi Maralyan, Sheybey and Kuyjagh. On the other hand, the Armenian side confirmed that it lost ‘some positions’ but did not provide details claiming that the situation on the frontline has been rapidly changing.

Stepanakert, the capital of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, other populated areas and civilian targets in the region have become a target of regular rocket, artillery and drone strikes. The Azerbaijani military extensively uses cluster munitions, heavy artillery, rocket launchers and even Israeli LORA theater quasiballistic missiles while simultaneously accusing Armenia of intentionally striking civilian targets in Azerbaijan. Numerous rockets and cluster bombs hit Stepanakert, the capital of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic on 06 October 2020, with Yerevan stating that Azerbaijani forces had launched a major offensive in the southern part of the line of contact.

The first ten days of the military operations revealed some important developments, which had not been witnessed before. Firstly, the Azerbaijani Army is not the same underfunded and dispirited entity that existed in the 1990s. Azerbaijan has been investing highly in its defence capacity over the past decade, spending over $2 billion a year to enhance its capabilities. Baku had partnered with Ankara, Moscow and Tel Aviv to source the latest military technologies. While Russia remains the largest supplier of the Azerbaijani arsenal, Turkey and Israel tend to supply the high-tech weaponry.

The extensive usage of drones by Azerbaijan changed the outlook of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Israeli-made kamikaze drones IAI Harop, and Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 UCAVs gave the Azerbaijani side air superiority, which is critical in such mountainous terrain. Drone warfare was used to soften enemy targets before ground forces move into the battlefield. This strategy allowed Baku to preserve its troops while demoralising Armenian forces by keeping them on continuous alert.

Armenia continued to reap the fruits of its membership to the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO). Russia delivers armaments to Yerevan either free of charge or based on Russian-supplied military credits. The non-stop Russian military weapons supply to Armenian forces is a major factor that has prevented Yerevan's troops from total collapse.

After feeling the heat in Nagorno Karabakh, the Armenian strategy consisted of spreading hostilities beyond the occupied region to other Azerbaijani territories. While the Azerbaijani Army is successfully retrieving chunks of Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenian forces are retaliating by using Soviet-made short and mid-range missiles to hit Azerbaijani towns such as Ganja, Tartar and Barda. Yerevan's choice of these targets was deliberate: the aim is to inflict massive civilian losses and raise the political and economic cost for Baku. Moreover, strategic energy facilities, such as Mingachevir HPP and Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline, were also on the hit list. This move demonstrates the Armenian was attempting to undermine the energy security and infrastructure of the entire region.

The targeting of civilians and infrastructure was planned to try and draw Baku into attacking Armenia directly. Such a reaction would boost Yerevan's propaganda and would offer Armenia a legitimate case to call the CSTO to send its troops to Armenia.

One of the Minsk Group's co-chairs, France, openly stated its position against Azerbaijan's legitimate right to control its territory as per international law. President Emmanuel Macron declared his opposition against Azerbaijan's so-called 'conquest' of Nagorno-Karabakh.

On 07 October 2020 Putin ruled out military intervention in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying Russia had an obligation to defend Armenia but the fighting is on Azerbaijani soil. By not recognizing de facto Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh as de jure Armenia, Moscow can avoid collective defense treaty obligations as long as the Azeris don't attack across the internationally-recognized border. "These obligations are related to security guarantees. If a CSTO member state is subject to any aggression or any external attack, then signatories of the deal are obligated to protect this country ... This is all about Armenia, the president has explained this quite clearly. CSTO obligations do not cover Karabakh", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov explained.

"The conflict should not go beyond the borders of Armenia and Azerbaijan. In fact, the conflict does not even go to the territory of Armenia. Since, despite the shelling from the Armenian territory, we do not strike any strikes on the territory of Armenia, we do not go to the territory of Armenia, although there are all the opportunities for it. The Armenian side is trying to drag the CSTO into this confrontation, unsuccessfully. It is trying to involve European countries. And in fact, it is trying to internationalise this conflict, to which we accordingly present our position on the inadmissibility of such an approach", Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev said in an interview with Russia's Channel One.

The Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said that fierce fighting had continued along the entire contact line in Karabakh and also reported multiple losses of rival troops. "On the night into 7 October, fighting continued along the front line. Our troops conducted combat operations in various sections of the front line, in order to consolidate the success achieved over the past days. Artillery strikes by both sides were recorded. As a result of the artillery strikes that we inflicted on the enemy yesterday, an observation post was made inoperative near the defence area of the 5th regiment. There are many killed and injured people", the Azerbaijani Defence Ministry said in a statement.

Armenia and Azerbaijan continue to exchange exaggerated claims of each other’s losses in the ongoing battle in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. Recent videos from the battlefield in Nagorno-Karabakh confirms that Azerbaijani forces are sustaining heavy losses. Nevertheless, the Armenian MoD claims are without a doubt filled with exaggerations.

Armenian Defense Ministry spokeswoman Shushan Stepanian has said Azerbaijani forces were “intensively shelling the southern front” of the conflict zone on 12 October 2020. Nagorno-Karabakh officials said Azerbaijan directed a “large number of forces” to the area of Hadrut, a town in the south of the region, and reported “large-scale hostilities” there. Azerbaijan’s Defense Ministry called those accusations “disinformation” and insisted that Azerbaijan was observing the ceasefire. The ministry, in turn, accused Armenian forces of shelling the Goranboy, Terter and Agdam regions of Azerbaijan that lie around Nagorno-Karabakh.

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on 17 October 2020 to a new humanitarian ceasefire from midnight in fighting over Azerbaijan's ethnic Armenian-controlled enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh, both countries said in identical statements. Azerbaijan and Armenia had accused each other earlier on Saturday of fresh attacks in violation of a week-old Russian-brokered truce that had failed to halt the worst fighting in the South Caucasus since the 1990s.

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By mid-July 2020 Armenia and Azerbaijan were in the middle of their worst border clash in recent history. Clashes broke out in the border area that separates Armenia's Tavush province and Azerbaijan's Tovuz region on 12 July 2020. The escalation was a reasonable distance away from the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh, where the two sides have waged war for decades. Azerbaijan has by far reported 11 troops killed as a result of armed hostilities, while Armenia has reported four fatalities. After days of fighting on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border, the Russia-led CSTO security bloc ignored Armenia's claims it was attacked. Turkey passionately supported Azerbaijan, and the international community's vague calls for restraint mean fighting can continue. Both sides released videos from drones, showing precision-guided munitions striking targets.

Two Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and five were injured in a battle on the border with Armenia, the Azerbaijani Defense Ministry said 12 July 2020. The Azerbaijani Defense Ministry claimed that the Armenian side also suffered losses. Earlier, Baku and Yerevan accused each other of violating the ceasefire and using artillery. According to the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan, units of the Armenian armed forces in the Tovuz district of the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border fired at Azerbaijani positions from artillery installations.In turn, the press secretary of the Armenian Ministry of Defense Shushan Stepanyan told Interfax that on Sunday afternoon, Azerbaijani troops first attempted to violate the border in an UAZ car, and then, using artillery fire, tried to capture the strong point. According to her, there are no losses from the Armenian side.

The tension in the Tovuz direction of the Azerbaijani-Armenian state border continued on the night of 13 July 2020. During night battles, Azerbaijani units, using artillery, mortars, and tanks have destroyed with accurate fire a strong point, artillery mounts, vehicles, and military personnel on the territory of the enemy’s military unit.

Starting from 05.45 on July 16, active military operations were conducted in the direction of the Tovuz region of the Azerbaijan-Armenia state border. In the fighting that has been ongoing to date, up to 20 servicemen, 1 armored vehicle, 1 electronic warfare (EW), combat posts and strongholds of the enemy have been destroyed by the precise fire. A serviceman of the Azerbaijan Army, soldier Ismayilov Nazim Afgan was killed during the combat operations. Azerbaijan Ministry of Defence confirmed: "Major-general of Azerbaijani Army Polad Hashimov was heroically martyred during a battle".

On 16 July 2020, Azerbaijani Defense Ministry spokesman Vagif Dargyakhly said that Armenia should beware that Baku has the necessary equipment to conduct a precision strike against the nuclear power plant (NPP). Azerbaijan's threat to carry out an airstrike on the Armenian-based Metsamor NPP is in violation of international law, the Armenian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday, calling upon Baku to publicly denounce threats like that.

As Armenia and Azerbaijan continue their clash over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region for a second week, both countries have blamed each other for targeting important cities and endangering the lives of civilians. Fighting spilled into a ninth day, with the two rivals ignoring growing international calls for a ceasefire and as Azerbaijan stressed that Turkey must be involved in any moves to end the conflict. Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said Armenian forces were shelling three of its towns – Beylagan, Barda, and Terter – after hitting Ganja and Mingecevir, the country’s second and fourth-largest cities respectively. Hikmet Hajiyev, head of Azerbaijan’s Foreign Policy Affairs Department, tweeted that four Tochka ballistic missiles had been launched at Mingecevir, which has a population of more than 100,000 and is located 100km (62 miles) from Armenia’s border.

Armenia’s ministry of defence tweeted that Azeri forces had fired rockets at Stepanakert and Shushi “with great intensity”. “Fierce fighting engagements are ongoing,” the ministry stated. Anna Naghdalyan, spokeswoman for Armenia’s ministry of foreign affairs, said on 05 October 2020 that Stepanakert was being “continuously attacked by Azerbaijani armed forces with cluster munitions”.

Armenian sources put the death toll from fighting in the region – home to about 145,000 people – at more than 200, while Azerbaijan said that 19 civilians had been killed and 60 injured.

On 08 October 2020 the Artsakh [(Nagorno-Karabakh)] Information Center presented the Azerbaijani army’s losses ever since hostilities began on September 27. Accordingly, the Artsakh Defense Army has so far destroyed 16 combat helicopters, 17 warplanes, 145 military drones, 496 armored vehicles—mainly tanks, four TOS-1A heavy artillery system, four Smerch rocket launcher systems of the adversary. Also, the Azerbaijani army has over 4,069 casualties, whereas from the Armenian side, according to preliminary data, there are 331 military casualties.

Israel supplied weapons to Azerbaijan used during the current war. Israel also imports Azerbaijani oil and could in the end be more likely to favor its relationship with Baku over Yerevan, with whom it only recently developed its ties.

Iran, which borders both countries, is often described as an ally of Armenia but has a nuanced relationship with both warring parties. Iran’s position in this conflict and towards the conflicts of the South Caucasus altogether generally has been more pragmatic rather than ideological. “Iran is generally cautious of the conflict expanding to its borders and is suspicious of growing Turkish influence in South Caucasus.

Turkey was the first country to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence after the fall of the Soviet Union and the two countries have strong ethnic and historic ties. In contrast, Turkey has no diplomatic relations with Armenia, partly due to the fallout of the mass killing of Armenians by Ottoman Turks in the Armenian Genocide. Turkey’s escalatory involvement as part of Erdogan’s expansionist foreign policy aspirations, and an opportunity to showcase its products from its arms industry that have proven beneficial in other theaters such as Syria, Libya, and the eastern Mediterranean. This is a continuation of Turkey’s expansionist policy. It’s very bold in a way and unexpected in a sense that Turkey would go so far in the former Soviet space. Turkey and Azerbaijan’s intentions are linked to Erdogan’s desire for domestic support through claiming foreign policy victories.

Russia has a military base in Armenia and sells arms to both Armenia and Azerbaijan in a balancing act that gives it considerable influence and leverage over both countries. Over the years, Moscow has used its position to play the role of a mediator. The recent escalation is a dilemma for Moscow. On the one hand, Russia is a co-chair of the main mediation entity for this conflict, the OSCE Minsk group, but on the other hand, it is a profoundly geopolitical player and an aspiring regional and global power. Russia’s passivity is to do with the ambiguities of its different possible roles and the unexpected extent of Turkey’s entry into this conflict. Ultimately Moscow’s interest is to keep its influence over both Armenia and Azerbaijan and to keep Nagorno-Karabakh a simmering conflict.

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Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed 10 October 2020 to a ceasefire in the conflict over the Nagorno-Karabakh region. The agreement was reached after more than 10 hours of talks in Moscow between the countries' foreign ministers. The meeting, mediated by Russia, was the first diplomatic contact between the sides since the latest flare-up in fighting over the disputed region. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov announced after the talks that Azerbaijan and Armenia agreed to a ceasefire starting on Saturday at noon, local time. He explained that the purpose of the deal is to exchange prisoners and the bodies of people killed in the conflict. He also said the specifics of the ceasefire will be agreed separately. More than 420 people had been killed since the fighting erupted between the former Soviet republics on September 27.

Armenia and Azerbaijan accused each other of violating the newly agreed truce, which came into force at midnight on Sunday (20:00 GMT Saturday), following mediation by the co-chairs of the Minsk Group. Azerbaijan shot down another Armenian Su-25 fighter jet, according to the country’s ministry of defense. Defence ministry of the Nagorno-Karabakh region said the death toll among its military has risen to 710.

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The Armenian side was now forced to recognize complete superiority of the Azerbaijani army, Spokesman for the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense, Colonel-Lieutenant Anar Eyvazov said at a briefing 21 October 2020. "The superiority of the Azerbaijani army, which was recognized by the Armenian side, was previously stated by supreme commander of the Azerbaijani armed forces, Eyvazov said. 'Under the leadership of the supreme commander, the Azerbaijani army has been provided with high-tech and modern weapons, soldiers and officers have undergone the courses, learned modern tactics of combat activity."

Azerbaijan's army continued to liberate its territories occupied for nearly 30 years by Armenian forces. "During the day on October 23 and on the night of October 24, the combat operations continued with varying intensity in the Aghdara, Khojavend, Fuzuli, Hadrut and Gubadli directions," Azerbaijan's Defence Ministry said in a statement on Saturday. Units of its military continue to carry out operations in certain directions of the front, it added. “Armenian armed forces units, which could not resist in the Khojavend, Fuzuli, and Gubadli directions of the front, have been inflicted by the fire strike," the army said.

The latest ceasefire was due to take effect at 8 am local time (0400 GMT), according to a joint statement by the US State Department and the governments of Azerbaijan and Armenia. "Congratulations to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev, who just agreed to adhere to a cease fire effective at midnight. Many lives will be saved," US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter. Azerbaijan's foreign ministry said Armenian forces had shelled the town of Terter and nearby villages in "gross violation" of the truce, which was announced by the United States. Armenia's defence ministry said Azerbaijani forces had "grossly violated" the ceasefire with artillery fire on combat positions in various parts of the frontline.

In 1989, Lachin’s population counted more than 46,000 Azerbaijanis, 44 Russians, 3 Armenians and a significant Kurdish population. Now, the region of Lachin, which borders Armenia’s internationally recognised borders has seen much of its original inhabitants forcefully displaced. Almost one million Azerbaijanis were displaced as a result of the conflict in Karabakh in the early 1990s. After more than a month of fighting, Azerbaijan had recaptured more than 15 percent of the Armenian occupied Karabakh region and stood on the cusp of retaking the Lachin region. The liberation of Lachin by Azerbaijan would simply cut off any links between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh separatists and leave the latter under virtual siege.

Beyond the importance that Lachin had for its original inhabitants, it is also a strategic linchpin connecting Armenia and the occupied region of Karabakh. Even after a ceasefire was signed between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 1994, Yerevan maintained possession of the strategic region. A resettlement policy began in a bid to create facts on the ground and the region's name was changed to Berdzor. The territories “regardless of the consideration of diplomats, must be inhabited by Armenians," said the head of the resettlement department in Armenia in the early 2000s. That sentiment has also made the Azerbaijani wary of any proposed ceasefire attempts over the last month. The suspicion that Armenia intended to keep conquered land by changing the demography of the region is not unfounded.

By 30 October 2020 Azerbaijani troops neutralised Armenian forces in Aghdara, Hojavend, Gubadli fronts and got closer to the town of Shusha, whose capture would mark a turning point in Nagorno-Karabakh fighting. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence said that Azerbaijani troops had neutralised many Armenian forces, as well as two SU-25 ground attack aircraft, three T-72 tanks, an armoured infantry vehicle, two Smerch and one Grad Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, 10 different types of artillery, a Gvozdika self-propelled howitzer, an OSA anti-aircraft missile system, and a P-18 radar system.

Separatist president Arayik Harutyunyan warned that advancing Azerbaijani forces were "five kilometres at the most" from the town. "The enemy's main goal is to capture Shushi ... whoever controls Shushi controls Artsakh," he said, using the Armenian names for the town and Nagorno-Karabakh. He called on Armenians to come to the defence of the strategically important town, the second-largest in Karabakh after the main city Stepanakert.

A century-old Armenian expression says, “Whoever controls the city of Shushi controls the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh.” That proved to be true in May 1992 when ethnic Armenian fighters drove out Azerbaijan’s army and seized the mountain fortress city, known in Azeri as Susa. After a monthlong Azerbaijani military advance across Nagorno-Karabakh’s southern flank, Shushi/Susa was once again the focus of a crucial battle in the war over the breakaway Azerbaijani region. Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto ethnic Armenian leadership in Stepanakert/Xankandi admitted 05 November 2020 that Azerbaijani troops had advanced to positions just a few kilometers south of Shushi/Susa.

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Reports late on 04 November 2020 said Azerbaijani light infantry was continuing to fight for that road near the village of Karintak/Dasalti at the bottom of the cliffs. If Azerbaijani forces manage to secure that road and advance to the high ground above, they will cut off Nagorno-Karabakh’s southern supply route from Armenia that has been christened by Armenians as the Road Of Life. Also known as the Lachin Corridor, the route passes from the southern Armenian city of Goris through the occupied Azerbaijani town of Lachin/Berdzor to Shushi/Susa’s fortified southwestern entrance. The only other road in and out of Shushi/Susa leads north to Stepanakert/Xankandi. For ethnic Armenian fighters, the loss of their southern supply corridor would leave them with just one overland link to Armenia -- a northern route passing through the Mrav/Murovdag mountains to Stepanakert.

On 08 November 2020 Azeri President Ilham Aliyev said his country’s forces had taken Shusha, the second-largest city in the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Armenian officials immediately denied the claim. If accurate, this would be a major strategic victory over the region’s Armenian forces. “With great pride and joy, I inform you that the town of Shusha has been liberated,” Aliyev said in a televised address to the nation, as Armenian officials reported that “heavy fighting” for the city continues. Aliyev said November 8 would “go down in the history of the Azerbaijani people” as the day “we returned to Shusha”.

The capture of Shusha by Azerbaijan’s army made the fall of the region’s capital, Stepanakert, inevitable, thus forcing Armenia to accept the terms of the ceasefire. This deal is a successful outcome for Azerbaijan as it retrieved large chunks of its territories illegally occupied by Armenia for three decades. Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliyev said the agreement was of “historic importance,” and amounted to a “capitulation” by Armenia. Turkey’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Cavusoglu was quick to congratulate Azerbaijan’s leadership via Twitter: “The brotherly Azerbaijan has achieved an important gain on the battleground and [negotiating] table. I sincerely congratulate this sacred success.”

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed on a deal with Russia to end weeks of fierce clashes over Nagorno-Karabakh on Tuesday, after a string of Azerbaijani victories in its fight to retake the disputed region. Under the 09 November 2020 Ceasefire agreement, Armenians will withdraw from 5 districts immediately and from 2 within 15 days. A corridor will be opened for the Azerbaijan-Nakhchivan connection from Armenia. Turkish and Russian peacekeepers will be deployed in the region.

The announcement of a full ceasefire sparked outrage in Armenia, with angry protesters storming the government headquarters in Yerevan where they ransacked offices and broke windows. Crowds also seized control of parliament, calling from inside the chamber for the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan after he announced the “painful” deal to the end the fighting.

President of self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh Arayik Harutyunyan said 10 November 2020 "It was the hardest night of my life.I don't know how history will judge us about the decision we had yesterday, Only yesterday we had faced great casualties in Khojavend. This was caused by UAVs. We had lost a great portion of our land during the conflicts held in past 43 days. The clashes were being occurred only 2-3km away of Stepanakert. If clashes had continued in this intensity, we would have lost all of the Karabakh with giving great casualties. We could only resist against UAVs with our air defense systems for several days yet during the last two days the latest technology UAVs had caused us to give great casualties."

In Yerevan Armenia, angry citizens were out all over the city disagreeing with the ending of the war and the removal of Armenian forces from Karabakh. People of Yerevan were on streets to protest Prime Minister Pashinyan after signing the agreement that accepts the defeat against Azerbaijan. Protesters in Yerevan, Armenia severely beat the speaker of the Armenian parliament.

Anger had already been mounting in Armenia ahead of the agreement, with 17 opposition parties on Monday calling on Pashinyan and the rest of his government to immediately resign. The parties said in a statement that Armenia’s leaders bore “the entire responsibility for the situation” in Karabakh. “The authorities have lost their moral and political basis to represent the people,” they said.

But Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan talking about the protesters in Yerevan: “they’re a group of provocateurs. Why didn’t these people go to Karabakh to fight?”

Armenian Karabakh managed to save less than a third of the territory it controlled before September 2020. Azerbaijan will deploy artillery to the hills of Shusha, just a few miles from Karabakh’s capital city of Stepanakert, and the breakaway republic itself will be cut off essentially from Armenia. For the first time in history, Baku has gained a ground corridor to its western exclave in the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic. Border guards from Russia’s Federal Security Service will protect the corridor through Armenia. Armenia surrendered two districts in the north that it didn’t lose in combat. During the Soviet era, these areas were not part of the region, but Armenian combatants seized them in 1993. Before these events, the districts were home mostly to ethnic Azerbaijanis who subsequently became refugees. In the past 25 years, these northern areas have remained only sparsely populated. According to the map released by Russia’s peacekeeping mission, however, the trilateral agreement uses the old Soviet demarcations (meaning that Armenia’s withdrawal isn’t quite as drastic as it might have been). At least twelve Il-76 military transport aircraft delivered servicemen of the 15th Peacekeeping Brigade to Armenia, the Russian Defense Ministry reported on the evening of 10 November 2020. “Planes of the Military Transport Aviation have delivered more than 200 servicemen as well as armored personnel carriers, armored vehicles and communications equipment,” the satement said. The total strength of the Russian peacekeeping contingent that would be deployed in the Nagorno-Karabakh region will be 1,960 military personnel, 90 armored personnel carriers, 380 units of automobile and special equipment. “The core of the Russian contingent will be subdivisions of the 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade (peacekeeping) of the Central Military District,” the statement added.

Stepanakert and nearby areas, including the Lachin corridor, just became the area of the Russian influence. Another factor is the control of Russian border guards over the transport corridor between Azerbaijan and its Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic through southern Armenia, which was agreed as a part of the peace deal. Additionally to the overwhelming military advantage and the economic/political influence on Azerbaijan, this also a factor that would play its own role in containing potential attempts of Azerbaijan to resume military actions there. On the other hand, it should be noted that with the Armenian surrender of Azerbaijani districts and the capture of Shusha by Azerbaijan, Baku achieved most of its military and political goals.

Azerbaijan’s armed forces had the upper hand over the battlespace. Armenia targeted Azerbaijan’s population centres with ballistic missiles to provoke retaliation, which would then trigger a direct Russian involvement as per the agreements signed between Moscow and Yerevan. However, Baku remained focused on the Karabakh operations, thus neutralising any possible Russian direct intervention. Furthermore, the fact that military operations began and ended during the peak of the US elections was a masterstroke as it prevented the potential involvement of the upcoming US administration in this conflict.

From a geopolitical standpoint, Azerbaijan’s victory in this war holds several lessons. First, it reflects Turkey’s growing importance on the world stage. In the past few years, Turkey’s allies have benefited from Ankara’s assertive policies. Qatar in 2017, Libya in 2019 and Azerbaijan in 2020 all opted for Ankara as an ally. This move has come with tangible benefits for the nations concerned, allowing them to turn deeply critical situations into a more stable environment conducive for peace. By openly aiding Azerbaijan and achieving a joint victory, Turkey has strengthened its influence in the Caucasus and throughout the “Turkic world,” proving itself to be a decisive, effective ally.

Second, France had been involved in the political process mediated by the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). This platform was highly inefficient and did little to bring peace between both parties. The apathy of the Minsk Group was not just unfair but also prejudicial to Azerbaijan although international law is entirely in favour of the Aliyev government.

Even when it became clear that the frozen conflict in Karabakh was about to erupt, France did nothing to bring Armenia back to the negotiating table. On the contrary, Paris supported the aggressive policies of the Armenian government, as French President Emmanuel Macron was hoping to keep Azerbaijan and Turkey at bay. Therefore, Azerbaijan’s victory was an additional failure for Macron, who once more engaged in petty politicking at the expense of international law.

By deploying peacekeepers to Nagorno-Karabakh, Russia has essentially created a military base on Azerbaijani soil. , Armenia’s need to accumulate greater military power will bind it to Russia more closely than before.

Turkish soldiers will establish a peacekeeping "Joint Centre" with Russia to monitor a ceasefire in the Nagorno-Karabakh region agreed by Azerbaijan and Armenia. Turkey's Parliament approved a bill 17 November 2020 to deploy Turkish troops to Azerbaijan for peacekeeping following the truce in Karabakh between Azerbaijan, Russia and Armenia. President Erdogan's request followed two days of talks in Ankara with Russian officials about how the two regional powers intend to jointly implement a Russian-brokered ceasefire.

Azerbaijan said 03 Decmber 2020 that 2,783 of its soldiers were killed during its conflict with ethnic Armenian forces over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, and that more than 100 of its troops were still missing. Azerbaijan had previously not disclosed any of its military losses in the conflict that erupted on September 27 and came to a halt on November 10 when a Russian-brokered peace deal ushered in a ceasefire. Armenia had not disclosed a final death toll for its military, but an ethnic Armenian official confirmed on November 14 that 2,317 soldiers had been killed. Dozens of civilians from both sides also died during the conflict.

For small countries such as Armenia [3,000,000 population] and Azerbaijan [9,500,000 population], these are heavy losses indeed. For America, with a population of 330,000,000, these battle deaths would be the equivalent of 97,000 [in the case of Azerbaijan], or 255,000 [in the case of Armenia]. There were about 50,000 Americans killed in Vietnam, and 500,000 during World War II.

The role of Russia and Turkey in the crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh, was apparent, but their position relative t each other remained contested. Some analysts, such as Valdai Club experts Maxim Suchkov and Andrey Sushentsov, believed the two countries realised early on that in the era of the de-Westernisation of the international system, Russia could become a resource for strengthening Turkey’s own strategic sovereignty, while Turkey could lend Russia the authority of a great power amid the erosion of the monolithic position of the West. But the Wall Street Journal saw an assertive Turkey muscling into Russia’s backyard. Erdogan's support for Azerbaijan’s military offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh seemed a rare foray into Kremlin’s sphere of influence.

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Page last modified: 24-01-2022 20:11:43 ZULU