Armenia-Azerbaijan, war over Nagorno Karabakh that has lasted since 1988: what happens, why we fight

The conflict between Baku and Yerevan remained frozen for a long time with periodic resurgences of tension and violations of the ceasefire

Why have Armenia and Azerbaijan been fighting for 35 years over a small mountainous region of 4500 square kilometers in the South Caucasus? The Nagorno Karabakh, which today returns to the center of the latest news with clashes and very high tension, is an Armenian majority enclave within Azerbaijan. The ethnically Armenian population is 120 thousand people. The conflict dates back to 1988, when the local government of Nagorno asked to move from the Soviet republic of Azerbaijan to the still Soviet republic of Armenia. Then there were clashes between ethnic militias, which an intervention by Soviet forces failed to resolve.

With the dissolution of the USSR in 1991, a real war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which caused at least 30 thousand deaths before reaching a ceasefire in 1994, obtained thanks to an agreement mediated by Russia and the OSCE. Nagorno Karabakh had meanwhile proclaimed an autonomous government, the republic of Artsakhwith Stepanakert as its capital, which however is not recognized internationally, while the UN continues to consider the region part of Azerbaijan.

The conflict remained frozen for a long time with periodic flare-ups of tension and violations of the ceasefire. But in the meantime Azerbaijan, having enriched itself from the sale of oil and gas, has rearmed. And he launched a new war on September 27, 2020. This time Baku prevailed and the conflict, which ended after 44 days thanks to Russian mediation, led Azerbaijan to appropriate 150 square kilometers of Armenian territory.

Muslim country, Azerbaijan is supported by Türkiye to which it is culturally and linguistically similar. Christian Armenia was supported by Russiawhich had guaranteed the last ceasefire of 2020. But with the invasion of Ukraine, Moscow neglected Armenia as the Lachin Corridor crisis deepened, the only access route between Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. Russian peacekeeping forces did not prevent Baku from blocking access to the corridor, which is important for the supply of essential goods to the enclave. And Yerevan has begun to consider its dependence on Russia in security matters a mistake, so much so that in recent days it has participated for the first time in joint military exercises with the Americans.