Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Date 1988–1994 (Nagorno-Karabakh War)
1994–present (sporadic violence, especially border clashes)
Location South Caucasus




Supported by
Commanders and leaders
Armenia Serzh Sargsyan (President of Armenia, Commander-in-Chief)
Armenia Seyran Ohanyan (Defense Minister of Armenia)
Armenia Yuri Khatchaturov (Chief of the General Staff of Armenia)
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Bako Sahakyan (President of NKR)
Nagorno-Karabakh Republic Movses Hakobyan (Defense Minister of NKR)
Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev (President of Azerbaijan, Commander-in-Chief)
Azerbaijan Zakir Hasanov (Defense Minister of Azerbaijan)
Azerbaijan Najmaddin Sadigov (Chief of the General Staff of Azerbaijan)
Casualties and losses
28,000-38,000 killed in total[9]
72 killed in 2014[10]
24 killed in 2015[11]

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is an ethnic conflict between the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan over the self-declared Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, a region in Azerbaijan populated primarily by ethnic Armenians. It has its origins in the early 20th century, although the present conflict began in 1988 and escalated into a full-scale war in the early 1990s. Tensions and border skirmishes have continued in the region despite an official cease-fire signed in 1994.


Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988–94)[edit]

Main article: Nagorno-Karabakh War

The Nagorno-Karabakh War, also known as the Artsakh Liberation War in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, was an armed conflict that took place in the late 1980s to May 1994, in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in southwestern Azerbaijan, between the majority ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh backed by the Republic of Armenia, and the Republic of Azerbaijan. As the war progressed, Armenia and Azerbaijan, both former Soviet Republics, entangled themselves in a protracted, undeclared war in the mountainous heights of Karabakh as Azerbaijan attempted to curb the secessionist movement in Nagorno-Karabakh. The enclave's parliament had voted in favor of uniting itself with Armenia and a referendum, boycotted by the Azerbaijani population of Nagorno-Karabakh, was held, whereby most of the voters voted in favor of independence. The demand to unify with Armenia, which began anew in 1988, began in a relatively peaceful manner; however, in the following months, as the Soviet Union's disintegration neared, it gradually grew into an increasingly violent conflict between ethnic Armenians and ethnic Azerbaijanis, resulting in claims of ethnic cleansing by both sides.[12][13]

Inter-ethnic clashes between the two broke out shortly after the parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) in Azerbaijan voted to unify the region with Armenia on 20 February 1988. The circumstances of the dissolution of the Soviet Union facilitated an Armenian separatist movement in Soviet Azerbaijan. The declaration of secession from Azerbaijan was the final result of a territorial conflict regarding the land.[14] As Azerbaijan declared its independence from the Soviet Union and removed the powers held by the enclave's government, the Armenian majority voted to secede from Azerbaijan and in the process proclaimed the unrecognized Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.[15]

Full-scale fighting erupted in the late winter of 1992. International mediation by several groups including the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) failed to bring an end resolution that both sides could work with. In the spring of 1993, Armenian forces captured regions outside the enclave itself, threatening the involvement of other countries in the region.[16] By the end of the war in 1994, the Armenians were in full control of most of the enclave and also held and currently control approximately 9% of Azerbaijan's territory outside the enclave.[17] As many as 230,000 Armenians from Azerbaijan and 800,000 Azeris from Armenia and Karabakh have been displaced as a result of the conflict.[18] A Russian-brokered ceasefire was signed in May 1994 and peace talks, mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group, have been held ever since by Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Post-war violence[edit]

2008 Mardakert skirmishes[edit]

The 2008 Mardakert skirmishes began on 4 March after the 2008 Armenian election protests. It involved the heaviest fighting between ethnic Armenian[19] and Azerbaijani forces[20] over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh[20][21] since the 1994 ceasefire after the Nagorno-Karabakh War.

Armenian sources accused Azerbaijan of trying to take advantage of ongoing unrest in Armenia. Azerbaijani sources blamed Armenia, claiming that the Armenian government was trying to divert attention from internal tensions in Armenia.

Following the incident, on March 14 the United Nations General Assembly by a recorded vote of 39 in favour to 7 against adopted Resolution 62/243, demanding the immediate withdrawal of all Armenian forces from the "occupied territories" of Azerbaijan.[22]

2010 violence[edit]

The February 2010 Nagorno-Karabakh skirmish was a scattered exchange of gunfire that took place on February 18 on the line of contact dividing Azerbaijani and the Karabakh Armenian military forces. Azerbaijan accused the Armenian forces of firing on the Azerbaijani positions near Tap Qaraqoyunlu, Qızıloba, Qapanlı, Yusifcanlı and Cavahirli villages, as well as in uplands of Agdam Rayon with small arms fire including snipers.[23][24] As a result, three Azerbaijani soldiers were killed and one wounded.[25]

The 2010 Mardakert skirmishes were a series of violations of the Nagorno-Karabakh War ceasefire. They took place across the line of contact dividing Azerbaijan and the ethnic Armenian military forces of the unrecognized but de facto independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Both sides accused the other of violating the ceasefire regime. These were the worst violations of the cease fire (which has been in place since 1994) in two years and left Armenian forces with the heaviest casualties since the Mardakert skirmishes of March 2008.[26]

2011 incidents[edit]

In late April 2011, border clashes left three Nagorno-Karabakh soldiers dead,[27] while on 5 October, two Azeri and one Armenian soldier were killed.[28]

2012 border clashes[edit]

The 2012 border clashes between the armed forces of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place from late April through early June. The clashes resulted in the deaths of five Azeri and four Armenian soldiers. In all during 2012, 19 Azeri and 14 Armenian soldiers were killed.[29] Another report put the number of Azeri dead at 20.[10]

2013 border clashes[edit]

In 2013, 12 Azeri and 7 Armenian soldiers were killed in border clashes.[29]

2014 border clashes[edit]

In 2014, several border clashes erupted that had resulted in 16 fatalities on both sides by 20 June.[30]

On 2 August, Azeri authorities announced that eight of their soldiers had been killed in three days of clashes with NKO forces, the biggest single death toll for the country's military since the 1994 war.[31] NKO denied any casualties on their side, while saying the Azeris had suffered 14 dead and many more injured.[31] Local officials in Nagorno-Karabakh reported at least two Armenian military deaths in what was the largest incident in the area since 2008.[32] Five more Azeri troops were killed the following night, bringing the death toll from the August clashes to at least 15. The violence prompted Russia to issue a strong statement, warning both sides not to escalate the situation further.[33]

By 5 August, the fighting that started on 27 July had left 14 Azeri and 5 Armenian soldiers dead. Overall, 27 Azeri soldiers had died since the start of the year in border clashes.[34]

November 2014 helicopter shootdown

On 12 November 2014, Azerbajani armed forces shot down a Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army Mil Mi-24 helicopter over Karabakh's Agdam district. Three people were killed in the incident. According to Azeri authorities, the helicopter attempted to attack Azeri army positions. Armenia’s Defense Ministry said the aircraft was unarmed and called its downing an “unprecedented provocation.”[35] Armenian authorities stated that Azerbaijan will face "grave consequences".[36] With the crash, 2014 became the deadliest year for Armenian forces since the 1994 ceasefire agreement, with 27 soldiers killed in addition to 34 fatalities on the Azeri side.[37] Six Armenian civilians also died in 2014, while by the end of the year the number of Azeri soldiers killed rose to 39.[10]

2015 border clashes[edit]

In fighting between 23 and 25 January 2015, three Azerbaijani and two Armenian soldiers were killed.[38] This brought the number of killed since the start of the year to 14 Azeri and 10 Armenian soldiers.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "‘Nagorno-Karabakh is Turkey's problem too,' says Erdoğan". Today's Zaman. 13 November 2013. Retrieved 3 August 2014. ...Erdoğan noted that Turkey's unconditional support for Azerbaijan... 
  2. ^ Özden Zeynep Oktav (2013). Turkey in the 21st Century: Quest for a New Foreign Policy. Ashgate Publishing. p. 126. ISBN 9781409476559. ...Turkey's support for Azerbaijan in the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh... 
  3. ^ Flanagan, Stephen J.; Brannen, Samuel (2008). Turkey's Shifting Dynamics: Implications for U.S.-Turkey Relations. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies. p. 17. ISBN 9780892065363. Turkey's border with Armenia has remained sealed since 1994, due to Turkish support for Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. 
  4. ^ de Waal 2003, p. 285.
  5. ^ Winds of Change in Nagorno Karabakh. Euronews. 28 November 2009.
  6. ^ "SOFA not sitting well in Iraq". Asia Times. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2010. 
  7. ^ Uppsala Conflict Data Program, Republic of Nagorno-Karabakh - civilians, viewed 2013-05-03
  8. ^ "Azerbaijani Soldier Shot Dead by Armenian Forces". Naharnet. Retrieved 22 October 2014. 
  9. ^ See [4][5][6][7][8]
  10. ^ a b c Loose Restraints: A Look at the Increasingly Shaky Karabagh Ceasefire
  11. ^ a b "Diversionary attack Tavush region. Armenian side suffered no casualties". Retrieved 24 January 2015. 
  12. ^ Rieff, David (June 1997). "Without Rules or Pity". Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations) 76 (2). Retrieved 13 February 2007. 
  13. ^ Lieberman, Benjamin (2006). Terrible Fate: Ethnic Cleansing in the Making of Modern Europe. Chicago: Ivan R. Dee. pp. 284–292. ISBN 1-56663-646-9. 
  14. ^ Croissant, Michael P. (1998). The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict: Causes and Implications. London: Praeger. ISBN 0-275-96241-5. 
  15. ^ It should be noted that at the time of the dissolution of the USSR, the United States government recognized as legitimate the pre-Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact 1933 borders of the country (the Franklin D. Roosevelt government established diplomatic relations with the Kremlin at the end of that year). Because of this, the George H. Bush administration openly supported the secession of the Baltic SSRs, but regarded the questions related to the independence and territorial conflicts of Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and the rest of the Transcaucasus as internal Soviet affairs.
  16. ^ Four UN Security Council resolutions, passed in 1993, called on withdrawal of Armenian forces from the regions falling outside of the borders of the former NKAO.
  17. ^ Using numbers provided by journalist Thomas de Waal for the area of each rayon as well as the area of the Nagorno-Karabakh Oblast and the total area of Azerbaijan are (in km2): 1,936, Kelbajar; 1,835, Lachin; 802, Kubatly; 1,050, Jebrail; 707, Zangelan; 842, Aghdam; 462, Fizuli; 75, exclaves; totaling 7,709 km2 (2,976 sq mi) or 8.9%: De Waal. Black Garden, p. 286.
  18. ^ The Central Intelligence Agency. "The CIA World Factbook: Transnational Issues in Country Profile of Azerbaijan". Retrieved 14 February 2007.  Military involvement denied by the Armenian government.
  19. ^ "Karabakh casualty toll disputed". BBC News. 2008-03-05. Archived from the original on 9 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  20. ^ a b "Fatal Armenian-Azeri border clash". BBC News. 2008-03-05. Archived from the original on 5 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  21. ^ "Armenia/Azerbaijan: Deadly Fighting Erupts In Nagorno-Karabakh". Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. 2008-03-04. Archived from the original on 6 March 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-05. 
  22. ^ General Assembly adopts resolution reaffirming territorial integrity of Azerbaijan...
  23. ^ "Azerbaijan announces names of soldiers killed and wounded by Armenian fire". Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  24. ^ "Azerbaijan: Baku Claims Three Dead in Karabakh Crossfire". Eurasianet. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  25. ^ "Three Azerbaijani Soldiers Killed Near Nagorno-Karabakh". RFE/RL. Archived from the original on 27 November 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-27. 
  26. ^ Fuller, Liz. "OSCE, EU Condemn Karabakh 'Armed Incident'." RFE/RL. June 22, 2010. Retrieved 22 June 2010.
  27. ^ "Azerbaijan goes beyond all permissible limits, two Artsakh servicemen killed". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  28. ^ Vika Elchyan. "Armenia, Azerbaijan Report More Deadly Skirmishes". - News from Armenia, Events in Armenia, Travel and Entertainment. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  29. ^ a b "Bloody clashes between Azerbaijan and Armenia over disputed territory". the Guardian. Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  30. ^ "Armenia Says Two Soldiers Killed In Fresh Border Skirmishes". 2014-06-20. Retrieved 2014-08-02. 
  31. ^ a b "At least eight Azerbaijani soldiers killed on border with Armenia". Retrieved 2014-08-02. 
  32. ^ Guliyev, Emil. "Azeri troops killed in clashes with Armenia as tensions flare - Yahoo News". Retrieved 2014-08-02. 
  33. ^ "Five more killed in clashes between Azeris, ethnic Armenians (Reuters, August 2, 2014)". Retrieved 13 October 2014. 
  34. ^ "PUTIN MEDIATES AZERI-ARMENIAN TALKS". Retrieved 13 August 2014. 
  35. ^ "Azerbaijan Risks New Armenia Conflict as Chopper Downed". 12 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  36. ^ "Armenia vows 'grave consequences' after helicopter downed". 12 November 2014. Retrieved 12 November 2014. 
  37. ^ Armenian helicopter shot down in Karabakh, 3 crew presumed dead (Armenian Reporter, November 12, 2014)
  38. ^ Clashes Intensify Between Armenia and Azerbaijan Over Disputed Land