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2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war

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2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war
Part of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Russia–Turkey proxy conflict
QarabaghWarMap(2020).svg
Pre-ceasefire situation from 9 November 2020[d]
Date27 September 2020 (2020-09-27) – 10 November 2020 (2020-11-10)
(1 month and 2 weeks)[24]
Location
Result

Azerbaijani victory[25][26]

Territorial
changes

During the war:

Post-ceasefire:

  • Azerbaijan will retain the areas of Nagorno-Karabakh that it captured during the war, all Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh to be ceded back to Azerbaijan by 1 December 2020.
  • Azerbaijan is granted direct land access to its exclave of Nakhchivan via a corridor through Armenia.[29]
Belligerents

 Azerbaijan


Arms suppliers:

 Armenia
 Artsakh


Commanders and leaders
Units involved

Azerbaijani Armed Forces

State Border Service[33]

Syrian mercenaries[40][10]

Artsakh Defence Army
Armed Forces of Armenia
National Security Service[41]
Strength
  • Unknown regular military
  • 2,580 Syrian fighters[42]
  • Unknown regular military
Casualties and losses

Per Azerbaijan:

Per SOHR:

  • 293 Syrian mercenaries killed[42]

See Casualties for details

Per Armenia:

  • 2,425 servicemen killed[56]
  • 21 servicemen captured[57]
  • Several hundred missing[58]

See Casualties for details
  • 4,000+ killed overall, with more than 2,000 from each side (per Russia)[59][60]
  • 93 Azerbaijani[61] and 54 Armenian civilians killed[62]
  • 407 Azerbaijani and 148 Armenian civilians injured[61][62]
  • 1 Russian Mi-24 shot down, 2 crew members killed, 1 injured[63]
  • 2 Armenian,[64] 1 Azerbaijani,[65] 2 French[66] and 3 Russian journalists injured[67]
  • 1 Iranian civilian injured from stray fire[68]
  • 40,000 Azerbaijanis[69] and 90,000 Armenians displaced[70][71]
Day-by-day animation of the war. Red: Artsakh; blue: captured by the Azerbaijani army; dotted blue: regions in which Azerbaijani special forces were active.

The 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh war[e] was an armed conflict between Azerbaijan, supported by Turkey, and the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh together with Armenia, in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. It was the latest escalation of an unresolved conflict over the region, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan, but partially governed by Artsakh, a breakaway state with an Armenian ethnic majority.[f]

Clashes began on the morning of 27 September 2020 along the Nagorno-Karabakh Line of Contact, which had been established in the aftermath of the First Nagorno-Karabakh war (1988–1994). In response to the clashes, Armenia and Artsakh introduced martial law and total mobilization,[80][81] while Azerbaijan introduced martial law and a curfew,[82] later declaring partial mobilization on 28 September 2020.[83] Turkey provided military support to Azerbaijan, although the extent of this support has been disputed.[84][85] Turkey's involvement is thought to have been an attempt to extend its sphere of influence, both by increasing the standing of Azerbaijan in the conflict and by marginalizing Russia's influence over the region.[84][86]

International analysts believe that fighting likely began with an Azerbaijani offensive,[84][87] and that the primary goal of the offensive was to reclaim districts in southern Nagorno-Karabakh that are less mountainous and thus easier to take than the region's well-fortified interior.[88][89] The war was marked by the deployment of drones, sensors, long-range heavy artillery[90] and missile strikes, as well as by state propaganda and the use of official social media accounts in online information warfare.[91] Total casualties on both sides may be in the low thousands.[92]

Numerous countries and the United Nations strongly condemned the fighting and called on both sides to de-escalate tensions and resume meaningful negotiations without delay.[93] Three ceasefires brokered by Russia, France, and the United States failed to stop the fighting.[94]

Following the capture of Shusha, the second-largest settlement in Nagorno-Karabakh, a ceasefire agreement was signed between the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, ending all hostilities in the area from 00:00, 10 November 2020 Moscow Time.[95][96][97] The President of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, also agreed to end the hostilities.[98] Under the agreement, the warring sides will keep control of their currently held areas within Nagorno-Karabakh, while Armenia will return the surrounding territories it occupied in 1994 to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan will also gain land access to its Nakhchivan exclave bordering Turkey and Iran.[99] Approximately 2,000 Russian soldiers will be deployed as peacekeeping forces along the Lachin corridor between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh for a mandate of at least five years.[24]

Background

The territorial ownership of Nagorno-Karabakh is fiercely contested between Armenians and Azerbaijanis. The current conflict has its roots in events following World War I and today the region is de jure part of Azerbaijan, although large parts are de facto held by the internationally unrecognised Republic of Artsakh, which is supported by Armenia.[100]

Soviet era

During the Soviet era, the region was governed as an autonomous oblast within the Azerbaijan SSR, despite having an ethnic Armenian majority.[101] As the Soviet Union began to disintegrate during the late 1980s the question of Nagorno-Karabakh re-emerged, and on 20 February 1988 the parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast passed a resolution requesting transfer of the oblast from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenian SSR. Azerbaijan rejected the request several times,[102] and ethnic violence began shortly thereafter with a series of pogroms between 1988 and 1990 against Armenians in Sumgait, Ganja and Baku,[103][104][105][106] and against Azerbaijanis in Gugark and Stepanakert.[107][108][109][110] Following the revocation of Nagorno-Karabakh's autonomous status, a referendum was held in the region on 10 December 1991. The referendum was boycotted by the Azerbaijani population, which then constituted around 22.8% of the region's population; 99.8% of participants voted in favor. In early 1992, following the Soviet Union's collapse, the region descended into outright war.[102]

First Nagorno-Karabakh War

The First Nagorno-Karabakh war resulted in the displacement of approximately 725,000 Azerbaijanis and 300,000–500,000 Armenians from both Azerbaijan and Armenia.[111] The 1994 Bishkek Protocol brought the fighting to an end and resulted in significant Armenian territorial gains: in addition to controlling most of Nagorno-Karabakh, the Republic of Artsakh also occupied the surrounding Azerbaijani populated districts of Agdam, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Kalbajar, Qubadli, Lachin and Zangilan.[112] The terms of the Bishkek agreement produced a frozen conflict,[113] and long-standing international mediation attempts to create a peace process were initiated by the OSCE Minsk Group in 1994, with the interrupted Madrid Principles being the most recent iteration prior to the 2020 war.[114][115] The United Nations Security Council adopted four resolutions in 1993 calling for the withdrawal of "occupying forces" from the territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh,[116] and in 2008 the General Assembly adopted a resolution demanding the immediate withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces,[117] although the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Russia, France and USA, voted against it.[118]

Frozen conflict

For three decades multiple violations of the ceasefire occurred, the most serious being the four-day 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[119] Surveys indicated that the inhabitants of Nagorno-Karabakh did not want to be part of Azerbaijan, and in August 2019, in an unprecedented declaration in favour of unification, the Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan stated "Artsakh is Armenia, full stop".[120] Further skirmishes occurred on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July 2020.[119] Thousands of Azerbaijanis demonstrated for war against Armenia in response, and Turkey voiced its firm support for Azerbaijan.[121] On 29 July 2020, Azerbaijan conducted a series of military exercises that lasted from 29 July to 10 August 2020,[122] followed by further exercises in early September with the involvement of Turkey.[123] Prior to the resumption of hostilities, allegations emerged that Turkey had facilitated the transfer of hundreds of Syrian National Army members from the Hamza Division to Azerbaijan.[124] The government of Azerbaijan denied the involvement of foreign fighters.[125]

Course of the conflict

Overview

Approximate frontlines at the time of the ceasefire, with Azerbaijan's territorial gains during the war in red, the Lachin corridor under Russian peacekeepers in blue, and areas to be surrendered by Armenia to Azerbaijan hashed.

The accounts of engagements in this conflict rely primarily on official statements from belligerents.[citation needed] The engagements have been characterized by the use of armoured warfare; drone warfare,[126] especially the use of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 and Israeli loitering munition Harop drones;[92][90] heavy artillery; rocket attacks; and trench warfare.[citation needed] Throughout the campaign, Azerbaijan has relied heavily on drones to strike at Armenian/Artsakh forces, and managed to inflict heavy losses. Having successfully targeted tanks, artillery, and air defense systems, Azerbaijani drones also began targeting units of soldiers. However, some Azerbaijani drones were shot down.[127][128] It has also featured the deployment of cluster munitions, which are banned by the majority of the international community but not by Armenia or Azerbaijan:[129] Azerbaijan states that Armenia has deployed cluster munitions against civilians,[130] and international third parties have confirmed evidence of Azerbaijan's use of cluster munitions against civilian areas of Nagorno-Karabakh.[131][132] A series of attacks have inflicted mass civilian casualties in Ganja, Azerbaijan, while civilian residences and infrastructure in Stepanakert, Artsakh's capital, and elsewhere have been targeted, inflicting casualties and causing extensive damage.[133] Disinformation and misinformation have accompanied the conflict.[134]

The amount of territory contested is relatively restricted, but the conflict has expanded beyond the borders of Nagorno-Karabakh due to the level of conflict and kind of munitions deployed and spilled over international borders. Shells and rockets have landed in East Azerbaijan Province in Iran, although causing no damage,[135][136] and Iran has reported several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) downed or crashed within its territory,[137][138][139][140] while Georgia stated that two UAVs had crashed in Kakheti Province.[141]

The conflict began with an Azerbaijani ground offensive that included armored formations, supported by artillery and drones, including loitering munitions. Armenian and Artsakh troops were forced back from their first line of defense in Artsakh's southeast and northern regions, but inflicted significant losses on Azerbaijani armored formations with anti-tank guided missiles and artillery, destroying dozens of vehicles. Azerbaijan made heavy use of drones in strikes against Armenian air defenses, taking out 13 short-range surface-to-air missile systems. Azerbaijani forces used drones to systematically isolate and destroy Armenian/Artsakh positions. Reconnaisance drones would locate a military position on the front lines and the placement of reserve forces, after which the position would be shelled along with roads and bridges that could potentially be used by the reserves to reach the position. After the Armenian/Artsakh position had been extensively shelled and cut off from reinforcement, the Azerbaijanis would move in superior forces to overwhelm it. This tactic was repeatedly used to gradually overrun Armenian and Artsakh positions.[142] Azerbaijani troops managed to make limited gains in the south in the first three days of the conflict. For the next three days, both sides largely exchanged fire from fixed positions. In the north, Armenian/Artsakh forces counterattacked, managing to retake some ground. Their largest counterattack took place on the fourth day, but incurred heavy losses when their armor and artillery units were exposed to Azerbaijani attack drones, loitering munitions, and reconnaissance drones spotting for Azerbaijani artillery as they maneuvered in the open.[143] On the sixth day, Azerbaijan and Armenia/Artsakh began trading missile and rocket artillery strikes against infrastructure. Among the targets hit were Stepanakert, the capital of Artsakh, which was repeatedly shelled with rocket artillery, a bridge linking Armenia with Nagorno-Karabakh, which was taken out in a missile strike, and Ganja, which was hit four times by Armenian and Artsakh, with Ganja International Airport among the targets. On the morning of the seventh day, Azerbaijan launched a major offensive. The Azerbaijani Army's First, Second, and Third Army Corps, reinforced by reservists from the Fourth Army Corps, began an advance in the north, making some territorial gains, but the Azerbaijani advance stalled.[143]

Most of the fighting subsequently shifted to the south, in terrain that is relatively flat and underpopulated as compared to the mountainous north. Azerbaijani forces launched offensives toward Jabrayil and Füzuli, managing to break through the multi-layered Armenian/Artsakh defensive lines and recapture a stretch of territory held by Armenian troops as a buffer zone, but the fighting subsequently stalled.[143]

After the shelling of Khojavend (Martuni),[144] Artsakh authorities began mobilizing civilians.[145] Just before 04:00 (00:00 UTC) on 10 October 2020, Russia reported that both Armenia and Azerbaijan had agreed on a humanitarian ceasefire after ten hours of talks in Moscow (the Moscow Statement) and announced that both would enter "substantive" talks.[citation needed] After the declared ceasefire, the President of Artsakh admitted Azerbaijan had been able to achieve some success, moving the front deep into Artsakh territory;[146] the Armenian Prime Minister announced that Armenian forces had conducted a "partial retreat".[147]

The ceasefire quickly broke down and the Azerbaijani advance continued. Within days Azerbaijan announced the capture of dozens of villages on the southern front.[148] A second ceasefire attempt midnight 17 October 2020 was also ignored.[149] Azerbaijan announced the capture of Jabrayil on 9 October 2020 and Füzuli on 19 October 2020. Azerbaijani troops also captured the Khoda Afarin Dam and Khodaafarin Bridges. Azerbaijan announced that the border area with Iran was fully secured with the capture of Agbend on 22 October 2020.[150] Azerbaijani forces then turned northwest, advancing towards the Lachin corridor, the sole highway between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, putting it within artillery range. According to Artsakh, a counterattack repelled forward elements of the Azerbaijani force and pushed them back. Armenian/Artsakh resistance had managed to halt the Azerbaijani advance to within 25 kilometers of the Lachin corridor by 26 October 2020. Artsakh troops who had retreated into the mountains and forests began launching small-unit attacks against exposed Azerbaijani infantry and armor, and Armenian forces launched a counteroffensive near the far southwestern border between Armenia and Azerbaijan.[151] On 26 October 2020, a US-brokered ceasefire came into effect, but fighting resumed within minutes.[152][153] Three days later, the Artsakh authorities stated that the Azerbaijani forces were 5 km (3.1 mi) from Shusha.[154] On 8 November 2020, Azerbaijani forces seized Shusha,[155] the second-largest city in Artsakh before the war, located 15 kilometers from Stepanakert, the republic's capital.[156]

Ceasefire agreement

Map of the ceasefire agreement
  Azerbaijan outside of the conflict zone
  Armenia
  Areas captured by Azerbaijan, to stay under its control
  Agdam District: transferred to Azerbaijan on 20 November[157][158]
  Kalbajar District: transferred to Azerbaijan on 25 November[159]
  Lachin District: to be transferred to Azerbaijan by 1 December
  Part of Nagorno-Karabakh with no scheduled cession to Azerbaijan
  Lachin corridor, monitored by Russian peacekeepers
  Access roads into Nagorno-Karabakh
  New Azerbaijani transport corridor to be established
  Line of contact before the 2020 conflict.
  Other areas claimed by Artsakh

On 9 November 2020, in the aftermath of the capture of Shusha, a ceasefire agreement was signed by the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, and the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, ending all hostilities in the zone of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict from 10 November 2020, 00:00 Moscow time.[95][96][97] The President of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, also agreed to end the hostilities.[98]

Under the terms of the deal, both belligerent parties were to exchange prisoners of war and the bodies of the fallen. Furthermore, Armenian forces were to withdraw from Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh by 1 December 2020, while a peacekeeping force, provided by the Russian Ground Forces and led by Lieutenant General Rustam Muradov,[160] of just under 2,000 soldiers would be deployed for a minimum of five years along the line of contact and the Lachin corridor linking Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Additionally, Armenia undertook to "guarantee safety" of passage between Azerbaijan′s Nakhchivan exclave and mainland Azerbaijan in both directions, while Russia′s border troops (under the Federal Security Service) were to "exercise control over the transport communication".[161][162][163]

Non-military actions taken by Armenia and Azerbaijan

Since the beginning of the conflict, both Armenia and Azerbaijan declared martial law, limiting the freedom of speech. In the meanwhile, a new law came into effect since October 2020 in Armenia, which prohibits negative coverage of the situation at the front.[164] Restrictions have been reported on the work of international journalists in Azerbaijan, with no corresponding restrictions reported in Nagorno-Karabakh.[165]

Armenia

A pro-military billboard in Republic Square, Yerevan on 7 October 2020.

On 28 September 2020, Armenia banned men aged over 18 listed in the mobilization reserve from leaving the country.[166] The next day, it postponed the trial of former President Robert Kocharyan and other former officials charged in the 2008 post-election unrest case, owing to one of the defendants, the former Defence Minister of Armenia, Seyran Ohanyan, going to Artsakh during the conflict.[167]

On 1 October 2020, the Armenian National Security Service (NSS) stated that it had arrested and charged a former high-ranking Armenian military official with treason on suspicion of spying for Azerbaijan.[168] Three days later, the NSS stated that it had arrested several foreign citizens on suspicion of spying.[169] Protesting Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan, Armenia has recalled its ambassador to Israel.[170]

On 8 October 2020, the Armenian President, Armen Sarkissian, dismissed the director of the NSS.[171] Subsequently, the Armenian government toughened the martial law and prohibited criticizing state bodies and "propaganda aimed at disruption of the defense capacity of the country".[172] On the same day, the Armenian MoD canceled a Novaya Gazeta correspondent's journalistic accreditation, officially for entering Nagorno-Karabakh without accreditation.[173] On 9 October 2020, Armenia tightened its security legislation.[172] On 21 October 2020, the Armenian Cabinet of Ministers temporarily banned the import of Turkish goods, the decision will come into force on 31 December 2020.[174] The following day, the Armenian parliament passed a law to write off the debts of the Armenian servicemen wounded during the clashes and the debts of the families of those killed.[175]

On 27 October 2020, the Armenian president Armen Sarkissian dismissed the head of the counterintelligence department of the National Security Service, Major General Hovhannes Karumyan and the chief of staff of the border troops of the National Security Service Gagik Tevosyan.[176] On 8 November 2020, Sarkissian yet again dismissed the interim head of the National Security Service.[177]

As of 8 November 2020, one Armenian activist was fined by the police for his anti-war post.[178]

Azerbaijan

Azerbaijani flag in Jafar Jabbarly Square near the 28 May station in Baku on 10 October 2020.

On 27 September 2020, Azerbaijani authorities restricted internet access shortly after the clashes began. According to an official statement, this was done to prevent Armenian provocations.[179] The National Assembly of Azerbaijan declared a curfew in Baku, Ganja, Goygol, Yevlakh and a number of districts from midnight on 28 September 2020,[180][181] under the Interior Minister, Vilayet Eyvazov.[182] Azerbaijan Airlines announced that all airports in Azerbaijan would be closed to regular passenger flights until 30 September 2020.[183] The Military Prosecutor's Offices of Fizuli, Tartar, Karabakh and Ganja began criminal investigations of war and other crimes.[184]

Also on 28 September 2020, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, issued a decree authorising a partial mobilization in Azerbaijan.[185] On 8 October 2020, Azerbaijan recalled its ambassador to Greece for consultations, following allegations of Armenians from Greece arriving in Nagorno-Karabakh to fight against Azerbaijan.[186] Three days later, the Azerbaijani State Security Service (SSS) warned against a potential Armenian-backed terror attack.[187]

On 17 October 2020, the Azerbaijani MoFA stated that member of the Russian State Duma from the ruling United Russia, Vitaly Milonov, was declared persona non grata in Azerbaijan for visiting Nagorno-Karabakh without permission from the Azerbaijani government.[188] On 24 October 2020, by recommendation of the Central Bank of Azerbaijan, the member banks of the Azerbaijani Banks' Association unanimously adopted a decision to write off the debts of the military servicemen and civilians who died during the conflict.[189]

On 29 October 2020, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, issued a decree on the formation of temporary commandant's offices in the areas that the Azerbaijani forces seized control of during the conflict. According to the decree, the commandants will be appointed by the Ministry of Internal Affairs, but they will have to coordinate with other executive bodies of the government, including Ministry of Defense, the State Border Service, the State Security Service, and ANAMA.[190][191]

On 31 October 2020, after gaining control of the territories on the border with Iran, Azerbaijan has established control over four more border posts.[192]

By 4 November 2020, six peace activists from Azerbaijan have been called to questioning by the State Security Service, due to their anti-war activism in Azerbaijan.[193][194][195][196][197]

Aftermath

Armenia

Protests in Yerevan against the ceasefire agreement, 18 November 2020

Shortly after the news about the signing the ceasefire agreement broke in the early hours of 10 November, violent protests erupted in Armenia against Nikol Pashinyan, claiming he was a "traitor" for having accepted the peace deal.[198] Protesters also seized the parliament building by breaking a metal door, and pulled the President of the National Assembly of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan from a car and beat him.[199][200] Throughout November, numerous Armenian officals resigned from their posts, including the Armenian minister of foreign affairs, Zohrab Mnatsakanyan,[201] the minister of defence, David Tonoyan,[202] head of the same ministry’s military control service, Movses Hakobyan,[203] and the spokesman of Armenia's Defense Ministry, Artsrun Hovhannisyan.[204]

Returning of occupied territories

Russian peacekeepers and Azerbaijani military personnel in Kalbajar.

Ahead of the transfer of Kalbajar District from Artsakh to Azerbaijan under the terms of the ceasefire agreement, ethnic Armenians burnt their homes, many of which were once inhabited by the Azerbaijanis,[205] to prevent them being reinhabited by the Azerbaijanis.[206][207] The district had been mostly inhabited by ethnic Azerbaijanis before the First Nagorno-Karabakh War and was re-settled by Armenian citizens after the conflict.[208] Some Armenians took their dead relatives' remains with them,[209] and Reuters reported that villagers were "carting off everything they could as trucks nearby loaded up with household possessions".[210] The reports of house burning emerged on 13 November,[211] and on 15 November Agence France-Presse reported that in Çərəktar at least six houses were set on fire.[212] In addition to burning houses and nearby forests, Armenians fleeing Kalbajar knocked down electric poles to remove the wires.[213][214][215] At Armenia's request, Azerbaijan extended the deadline for Armenians to fully vacate Kalbajar District by 10 days, until 25 November. Azerbaijan's Presidential Office stated that they took the worsening weather and the fact that there was only one road to Armenia into consideration when agreeing to extend the deadline.[216] Azerbaijan's authorities denounced civilians leaving the area for burning houses and committing what it termed "ecological terror",[217] while the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, called them a "wild enemy", adding that the Armenians were "embarrassing themselves in front of the whole world".[218]

On 19 November, Agence France-Presse reported that the Armenian soldiers were destroying buildings of their headquarters in Ağdam, a major city that housed about 50,000 people with largely-Azerbaijani population[219] until the battle over the city in 1993, but which since became a ghost town.[220] Associated Press reported that the Aghdam Mosque was the only structurally whole building, which the Armenians vandalized it with graffiti, and used it as a stable for cattle and swine for years.[221] The Armenians living in Aghdam District also had set their homes on fire.[220] The next day, Azerbaijani forces entered Ağdam,[157][158] Rustam Muradov, the chief of staff of the Russian peacekeeping task force in the region stating that the handover operation was carried out without incident.[222] This occasion was highly celebrated in Baku, as, according to France24, cars paraded through the city with the Azerbaijani, Russian, and Turkish flags.[218] On 24 November, On November 24, with the permission of the Azerbaijani military, some Armenians returned to Gülablı to pick up their clothes. The Azerbaijani military offered them to stay in Agdam as Azerbaijani citizens.[223] By 22 November, the Azerbaijani military had defused more than 150 mines in the district.[224]

On 25 November, the second Armenian-occupied district was returned to Azerbaijan, Kalbajar.[159] The Armenian forces had blew up their military headquarters before returning the district.[225] The Azerbaijani forces, according to the BBC Azerbaijani Service, moving into the district through two northern directions in Azerbaijan's Dashkasan District and the Toğanalı of Goygol District,[226] demined the roads.[227] The President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, also vowed to rebuild and revive Kalbajar District.[228] The return of Kalbajar was celebrated by a rally in Baku.[229] IDPs from Kalbajar, who settled in Ganja, also celebrated the occasion.[230]

On 25 November, National Geological Exploration Service of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources stated that it planned to monitor and explore the current state of the fields in Kalbajar District.[231] The next day, the Armenian media reported that a group of about 250 Azerbaijani soldiers[232] suddenly appeared on the gates installed on the M11 highway, near Sotk/Zod gold mine in Kalbajar District of Azerbaijan and Gegharkunik Province of Armenia,[233] one of the largest gold deposits in the South Caucasus.[234] Moving over to mine's territory, they demanded its handover within an hour, and established a temporary military post.[235] The Armenian MoD immediately refuted this,[236] stating that the Azerbaijani forces, having found an Armenian border checkpoint unacceptable, contacted the Armenian side through a loudspeaker, and negotiated with the Russian peacekeepers on the issue. The Armenian and Azerbaijani authorities started to demarcate the border on the same day.[237] The Armenian military authorities then stated that half of the mine's control had passed to Azerbaijan.[238]

Azerbaijan

Celebrations in Baku, Azerbaijan after the peace treaty.
President Ilham Aliyev visiting Fuzuli on 16 November.

In contrast, the peace agreement and the end of the war was seen as a victory and was widely celebrated in Azerbaijan.[239][240] On 10 November 2020, crowds waved flags in Baku after the peace deal was announced.[241] On 11 November, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, at a meeting with wounded Azerbaijani servicemen who took part in the war, said that new orders and medals would be established in Azerbaijan, and that he gave appropriate instructions on awarding civilians and servicemen who showed "heroism on the battlefield and in the rear and distinguished themselves in this war." He also proposed the names of these orders and medals.[242] About a week later, at a plenary session of the Azerbaijani National Assembly, a draft law on amendments to the law "On the establishment of orders and medals of the Republic of Azerbaijan" was submitted for discussion.[243] Seventeen new orders and medals were established on the same day in the first reading in accordance with the bill "On the establishment of orders and medals of the Republic of Azerbaijan".[244] On 12 November, the Azerbaijani Ministry of Internal Affairs stated that it had moved the Shusha police department, which was previously located in Tartar District, into Shusha,[245] while on 14 November, the control of the Sugovushan reservoir was transferred to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations from the military.[246] On 15 November, the Armenian Apostolic Church claimed that Ghazanchetsots Cathedral had been defaced after the Azerbaijani forces took control of Shusha, prompting a statement by the Armenian Foreign Ministry denouncing the act; the Azerbaijani president Aliyev issued a statement saying that the Christian churches would be protected.[247]

On mid-November, Aliyev and Azerbaijan's First Vice-President, Mehriban Aliyeva, visited Fuzuli and Jabrayil Districts, both of which were ghost towns in ruins after the Armenian forces occupied it in 1993.[205] Aliyev ordered the State Agency of Azerbaijan Automobile Roads to construct a new highway, starting from Alxanlı, which will connect Fuzuli to Shusha.[248] In Jabrayil, Aliyev stated that a "new master plan" will be drawn up to rebuild the city.[249] He also visited the Khodaafarin Bridges, in the border with Iran.[250] According to the Azerbaijani economist Toghrul Valiyev, fully reconstructing Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, and Gubadly, all which basically have no infrastructure left, would likely take 10 years and cost about $15 billion.[251] According to the head of the NGO Humanitarian Research Public Union, Avaz Hasanov, Azerbaijan will also likely try to attract private financing for the reconstruction.[252] In the meanwhile, Azerbaijan Railways also announced its plans to rebuild the rail line connecting Stepanakert to Yevlakh.[251] On 18 November, the Azerbaijani MP Tahir Mirkishili stated that a consortium was formed between the state-owned Azergold and a foreign company to mine for gold in Zangilan, Vejnəli, and Kalbajar.[253] Also, PASHA Bank and Kapital Bank announced that they plan to open new branches across the region.[254] In the meanwhile, organizers of the Turkvision Song Contest stated that they were exploring the possibility of holding the contest's 2021 version in Shusha.[255]

On 23 November, the units of the State Fire Control Service of the Azerbaijani Ministry of Emergency Situations started operating in several districts in Karabakh controlled by Azerbaijan.[256] The next day, archeological finds in Azykh Cave were brought to Baku by the representatives of the Azerbaijani State Security Service and placed in the Archaeological Fund of the Institute of Archeology and Ethnography of ANAS.[257] On 25 November, the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) approved the inclusion of six more Azerbaijani airports in the international spatial index catalog, including Aghdam, Fuzuli and Stepanakert airports. The codes of these airports will be added to the updated edition of the ICAO Registry, which will be published in December.[258]

Casualties, equipment losses and infrastructure damage

Rescue teams in Ganja, second-largest city of Azerbaijan, at a site hit by an attack.
Stepanakert, the capital city of the Republic of Artsakh, has been heavily damaged by shelling during the conflict.

Civilian and military casualties have been high,[259] officially in the hundreds and possibly in the low thousands,[92] with casualty reports not having been independently verified. Civilian areas, including major cities, have been hit, including Azerbaijan's second-largest city, Ganja, and the region's capital, Stepanakert, with many buildings and homes destroyed.[260][261] The Ghazanchetsots Cathedral has also been damaged.[262] Several outlets reported increased cases of COVID-19 in Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly the city of Stepanakert, where the population is forced to live in overcrowded bunkers, due to Azerbaijan artillery and drone strikes, and difficulty in testing and contact tracing.[263][264]

Casualties

Civilians

According to Armenian sources, on 27 September 2020, two civilians were killed by Azerbaijani shelling in Martuni Province, with approximately a dozen injured in Stepanakert;[265][266] the Azerbaijani MoD denied the reports.[267] On 10 October 2020, Armenian media reported the killing of two civilians in Hadrut, a mother and his son with a disability, according to Armenia the killing was carried out by Azerbaijani infiltrators.[268][269] By 4 November 2020, Armenian authorities reported 54 Armenian civilians were killed in the conflict.[62] According to Azerbaijani sources, the Armenian military has targeted densely populated areas containing civilian structures.[270] As of 9 November 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan stated that during the clashes, as a result of reported shelling by Armenian artillery and rocketing, 93 people had been killed, while 407 people had been wounded.[61]

As of 23 October 2020, the Armenian authorities has stated that the conflict had displaced more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population or approximately 90,000 people.[70] The International Rescue Committee has also claimted that more than half of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh has been displaced by the conflict.[271] As of 2 November 2020, the Azerbaijani authorities has stated that the conflict had displaced approximately 40,000 people in Azerbaijan.[69]

Seven journalists have been injured.[128][65] On 1 October 2020, two French journalists from Le Monde covering the clashes in Khojavend were injured by Azerbaijani shellfire.[272] A week later, three Russian journalists reporting in Shusha were seriously injured by an Azerbaijani attack.[273][274] On 19 October 2020, according to Azerbaijani sources, an Azerbaijani AzTV journalist received shrapnel wounds from Armenian shellfire in Aghdam District.[65]

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and Vice-president Mehriban Aliyeva during a meeting with wounded Azerbaijani servicemen.

Military

During the conflict, the government of Azerbaijan did not reveal the number of its military casualties.[275] On 23 October 2020, President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, confirmed that Shukur Hamidov who was made National Hero of Azerbaijan in 2016, was killed during the operations in Qubadli District.[276] This was the first military casualty officially confirmed by the government. However, Armenian and Artsakh authorities have claimed 7,630 Azerbaijani soldiers and Syrian mercenaries were killed.[277][278] On 6 October 2020, the Azerbaijani MoD denied an Armenian MoD reports of 200 deaths[279][280] after the alleged defeat of an Azerbaijani unit.[281] After the end of the war, the President of Azerbaijan stated housing would be provided for the families of 1,500 "martyrs" killed during the conflict.[282]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of at least 293 Syrian fighters or mercenaries fighting for Azerbaijan.[42] On 14 November 2020, the Observatory reported the death of a commander of the Syrian National Army's Hamza Division.[283]

Artsakh authorities reported the deaths of 2,425 servicemen during the conflict,[55] while the Azerbaijani authorities reported more than 2,300 Armenian servicemen were killed or wounded as of 30 September 2020.[284] Although, after the war, the former director of the Armenian National Security Service, Artur Vanetsyan, had stated that the 5,000 Armenians were killed during the war.[285] On 27 October 2020, Artsakh authorities stated that its defense minister Jalal Harutyunyan was wounded in action.[286] However, unofficial Azerbaijani military sources alleged that he was killed and released footage apparently showing the assassination from a drone camera.[287]

Infrastructure damage

The Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha has been damaged. On 19 October 2020, strong fire broke out in a cotton plant in Azad Qaraqoyunlu, Tartar District, as a result of the Armenian artillery shelling, with several large hangars of the plant getting completely burned down.[291] An Armenian-backed Nagorno-Karabakh human rights ombudsman report noted 5,800 private properties destroyed and 520 private vehicles, with damage to 960 items of civilian infrastructure, and industrial and public and objects. As of 24 October 2020, the Prosecutor General's Office of the Republic of Azerbaijan reported 1,941 private houses, 382 civilian facilities, and 90 multi-storey residential buildings being damaged.[292]

Equipment losses

By 7 October 2020, Azerbaijan reported to have destroyed about 250 tanks and other armored vehicles; 150 other military vehicles; 11 command and command-observation posts; 270 artillery units and MLRSs, including a BM-27 Uragan; 60 Armenian anti-aircraft systems, including 4 S-300 and 25 9K33 Osas; 18 UAVs and 8 arms depots.[284][293][294][295] destroyed. As of 16 October 2020, the Azerbaijani President stated that the Armenian losses were at US$2 billion.[296] In turn an Azerbaijani helicopter was stated to have been damaged, but its crew had apparently returned it to Azerbaijani-controlled territory without casualties.[297] Later it was reported that on 12 October 2020, Azerbaijan had destroyed one Tochka-U missile launcher. On 14 October 2020, Azerbaijan stated it had further destroyed five T-72 tanks, three BM-21 Grad rocket launchers, one 9K33 Osa missile system, one BMP-2 vehicle, one KS-19 air defense gun, two D-30 howitzers and several Armenian army automobiles.[298] On the same day, Azerbaijan announced the destruction of three R-17 Elbrus tactical ballistic missile launchers that had been targeting Ganja and Mingachevir.[299] BBC reporters confirmed the destruction of at least one tactical ballistic missile launcher in the vicinity of Vardenis, close to the border with Azerbaijan, and posted photo evidence in support of this information.[300] Later American journalist Josh Friedman posted a high quality video of a destroyed Armenian ballistic missile launcher.[301]

Armenian and Artsakh authorities initially reported the downing of four Azerbaijani helicopters and the destruction of ten tanks and IFVs, as well as 15 drones.[302] Later the numbers were revised to 36 tanks and armored personnel vehicles destroyed, two armored combat engineering vehicles destroyed and four helicopters and 27 unmanned aerial vehicles downed all within the first day of hostilities.[303] They released footage showing the destruction or damage of five Azerbaijani tanks.[304] Over the course of 2 October, the Artsakh Defence Army said they had destroyed 39 Azerbaijani military vehicles, including a T-90 tank; four SU-25 fighter-bombers; three Mi-24 attack helicopters; and 17 UAVs.[305]

According to Dutch warfare research group Oryx, which documents visually confirmed losses on both sides, Armenia lost 185 tanks (destroyed: 115, damaged: 5, captured: 65), 46 armored fighting vehicles (destroyed: 24, captured: 22), and 491 trucks, vehicles and jeeps (destroyed: 212, damaged: 14, captured: 245), while Azerbaijan lost 31 tanks (destroyed: 19, damaged: 8, abandoned: 1, captured: 2, captured but later lost: 1), 13 armored fighting vehicles (damaged: 1, abandoned: 4, captured: 8), 30 trucks, vehicles and jeeps (destroyed: 16, damaged: 6, abandoned: 6, captured: 2), as well 11 old An-2 aircraft, used as unmanned bait in order for Armenia to reveal the location of air defense systems. Oryx only counts destroyed vehicles and equipment of which photo or videographic evidence is available, and therefore, the actual number of equipment destroyed is higher.[306]

Analysis

Nationalist sentiment

While Armenians and Azerbaijanis lived side by side under Soviet rule, the collapse of the Soviet Union contributed to racialization and fierce nationalism, causing both Armenians and Azerbaijanis to stereotype each other, shaping respective sociopolitical discourses.[307] Before, during and after the First Nagorno-Karabakh War, the growth of anti-Armenian and anti-Azerbaijan sentiment resulted in ethnic violence, including pogroms against Armenians in Azerbaijan, as in Sumgait and Baku,[308][309][310][311] and against Azerbaijanis in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, as at Gugark and Stepanakert.[107][108][109][110] The incitement of hatred and promotion of hate speech is one of the main obstacles to creating the necessary conditions for a peace process.[312][313][verification needed]

Azerbaijani aims

Most of Azerbaijan's initial successful advances were concentrated in the areas located along the Aras River, which has less mountainous terrain compared to the region's northern and central territories.

In a 27 September 2020 interview, regional expert Thomas de Waal said that it was highly unlikely that hostilities were initiated by the Armenian side, as they were already in possession of the disputed territory and were incentivized to normalize the status quo, while "for various reasons, Azerbaijan calculate[d] that military action w[ould] win it something".[314] An analyst cited by Foreign Policy magazine predicted that Azerbaijan would have great difficulty in trying to control the entire area of Nagorno-Karabakh due to the extremely inaccessible mountainous terrain controlled by Armenian troops. In addition, he opined that the readiness of the Azerbaijani army was poor, with morale low, its structure corrupt and inefficient, and a desertion rate as high as 20%. Furthermore, despite large investments in the purchase of military equipment from oil profits, the Azerbaijani army was said to lack adequate training for the use of new equipment.[88] The suspected immediate goal of the Azerbaijani offensive was to capture the districts of Fuzuli and Jabrayil in southern Nagorno-Karabakh, where the terrain is less mountainous and more favorable for offensive operations.[87] According to Russian military expert Mikhail Khodarenok, Azerbaijan had carefully planned and prepared the offensive operation; however, he added that the Azerbaijani army did not appear to complete its initial objectives during the first five days of the clashes, taking neither Fuzuli nor Mardakert.[89] Similarly, political scientist Arkady Dubnov of the Carnegie Moscow Center[315][316] believed that Azerbaijan had launched the offensive to improve Azerbaijan's position in a suitable season for hostilities in the terrain.[317]

Turkey and Russia

The geostrategic interests of Russia and Turkey in the region were widely commented upon during the war. Both were described as benefiting from the ceasefire agreement, with The Economist stating that for Russia, China and Turkey, "all sides stand to benefit economically".[318] In late October, massed Russian airstrikes targetted a training camp for Failaq al-Sham, one of the largest Turkish-backed Sunni Islamist rebel groups in Syria's Idlib province, killing 78 militants in an act widely interpreted as a warning shot to Ankara over the latter's involvement in the Nagorno-Karabakh fighting.[319][320]

Turkey

Azerbaijan and Turkey are bound by ethnic, cultural and historic ties, and both countries refer to their relationship as being one between "two states, one nation".[321] Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) helped Azerbaijan, previously part of the Russian Empire gain its independence in 1918, and became the first country to recognize Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.[322] Turkey has also been the guarantor of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic, an exclave of Azerbaijan, since 1921.[323][324] Other commentators have seen Turkey's support for Azerbaijan as part of an activist foreign policy, linking it with neo-Ottoman policies in Syria, Iraq, and the Eastern Mediterranean.[325][326] Turkey's highly visible role in the conflict was described by Armenians as a continuation of the Armenian Genocide, the mass murder and expulsion of 1.5 million Armenians by the Ottoman government, particularly given Turkey's continued denial of the genocide.[327][328][329][330] Turkey provided military support to Azerbaijan, including military experts and Syrian mercenaries.[318] The access corridor stipulated by the ceasefire agreement, linking Nakhchivan and the main part of Azerbaijan through Armenia, would provide Turkey with trade access to Central Asia and China's Belt and Road Initiative.[318]

Russia

Russia had sought to maintain good relations with Azerbaijan and had sold weapons to both parties. Even prior to the war, Russia had possessed a military base in Armenia as part of a military alliance with Armenia, and thus was obligated by treaty to defend Armenia in the case of a war. Like in Syria and in Libya's ongoing civil war, Russia and NATO-member Turkey therefore had opposing interests.[331] Turkey appeared to use the conflict to attempt to leverage its influence in the South Caucasus along its eastern border, using both military and diplomatic resources to extend its sphere of influence in the Middle East, and to marginalize the influence of Russia, another regional power.[332][86] Russia had historically pursued a policy of maintaining neutrality in the conflict, and Armenia never formally requested aid.[84] According to the director of the Russia studies program at the CNA, at the beginning of the war Russia was judged to be unlikely to intervene militarily unless Armenia incurred drastic losses.[84] However, the 14 October 2020 Azerbaijani strike within Armenian territory threatened to bring the mutual defense pact to the fore.[333] In a piece published by the Russian broadsheet Vedomosti on 10 November, Konstantin Makienko, a member of the State Duma Defence Committee, wrote that the geopolitical consequences of the war were "catastrophic" not only for Armenia but for Russia as well, because Moscow's influence in the Southern Caucasus had dwindled while "the prestige of a successful and feisty Turkey, contrariwise, ha[d] increased immensely".[334] Alexander Gabuev of the Carnegie Moscow Center took the opposite view, describing the peace agreement as "a win for Russia", as it had "prevented the conclusive defeat of Nagorno-Karabakh" and, by placing Russia in charge of the strategic Lachin corridor, boosted the country's leverage in the region.[335]

Military tactics

Azerbaijan's oil wealth allowed it to have a consistently higher military budget than Armenia,[318] and it had purchased advanced weapons systems from Israel, Russia and Turkey.[126] Despite the similar size of both militaries, Azerbaijan possessed superior tanks, armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles,[128] and had also amassed a fleet of Turkish and Israeli drones. Armenia built its own drones, but these were greatly inferior to Turkish and Israeli drones possessed by Azerbaijan.[128] Azerbaijan had a quantitative advantage in artillery systems, particularly self-propelled guns and long-range multiple rocket launchers, while Armenia had a minor advantage in tactical ballistic missiles.[143] Because of the air defence systems possessed by both sides, there was little use of manned aviation during the conflict.[128] According to Gustav Gressel, a Senior Policy Fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations, the Armenian Army was superior to the Azerbaijani Army on a tactical level, with better officers, a more agile leadership, and more highly motivated soldiers.[142]

In the opinion voiced by Russian military expert Vladimir Yevseev after the end of the war, for reasons that were not completely clear, Armenia appeared not to have executed the mobilisation it had announced and the mobilised personnel were hardly ever deployed to the area of conflict.[336]

Drone warfare

The Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline (green) is one of several pipelines running from Baku.

Azerbaijan made highly effective use of drones and sensors, demonstrating what The Economist described as a "new, more affordable type of air power".[126] Azerbaijani drones, notably the Bayraktar TB2, were used to carry out precise strikes and carry out reconnaissance, relaying the coordinates of targets to Azerbaijani artillery.[90] Commentators noted that the use of drones in Nagorno-Karabakh illustrated how they enabled small countries to conduct effective air campaigns, potentially making low-level conflicts much more deadly.[337] Close air support was provided by specialized suicide drones, such as IAI Harop, rendering tanks vulnerable and suggesting changes are required to armored warfare doctrine.[338] Another suicide drone, the Turkish-made STM Kargu, was also reportedly used by Azerbaijan.[339][47]

Targeting of pipelines

Concerns were raised about the security of the petroleum industry in Azerbaijan.[340][341] Azerbaijan claimed that Armenia targeted, or tried to target, the Baku–Tbilisi–Ceyhan pipeline, which accounted for around 80% of country's oil exports, and the Baku–Novorossiysk pipeline.[342][343][344] Armenia rejected the accusations.[345]

Use of propaganda

Billboards in Yerevan have been displaying footage released by the Armenian Ministry of Defence since the beginning of the conflict.

Both sides have engaged in extensive propaganda campaigns through the use of official mainstream and social media accounts magnified online,[91] including in Russian media. The ability of drones to record their kills has enabled a highly effective Azerbaijani propaganda campaign.[90][126] In Baku, digital billboards have broadcast high-resolution footage of missiles striking Armenian soldiers, tanks, and other materiel. Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev told Turkish television that Azerbaijani-operated drones had reduced the number of Azerbaijan's casualties, stating, "These drones show Turkey's strength" and "empowers" Azerbaijanis.[128]

Cyberwarfare

Hackers from Armenia and Azerbaijan, as well as their allied countries have actively participated in cyberwarfare, with Azerbaijani hackers targeting Armenian websites and posting Aliyev's statements,[346] and Greek hackers targeting Azerbaijani governmental websites.[347] There has been coordinated efforts from both sides on social media regarding postings of content. Misinformation and videos of older events have been shared as new and different events related to the war. New social media account creation that post about Armenia and Azerbaijan has spiked, with many from authentic users, but many inauthentic accounts have also been detected.[348][349]

Suspected war crimes

UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that "indiscriminate attacks on populated areas anywhere, including in Stepanakert, Ganja and other localities in and around the immediate Nagorno-Karabakh zone of conflict, were totally unacceptable".[350]

Armenian

An ANAMA employee standing among the ruins of a destroyed residential building in Ganja after an Armenian missile attack.

Armenia struck several Azerbaijani cities outside of the conflict zone, most frequently Tartar, Beylagan and Barda.[351][352] Azerbaijani authorities reported attacks on Beylagan on 4 October, killing two civilians and injuring 2 others,[353][354] Goranboy on 8 October killing a civilian,[355] Hadrut on 10 October, seriously injuring a medical worker,[356] Tartar on 15 October, targeting a cemetery in the city resulting in three civilian deaths and at least five civilian injuries[357] and Fuzuli on 20 October, resulting in one civilian death and six injuries.[358][359] By 24 October, there had been more than 80 civilian deaths in areas of Azerbaijan outside of the war zone.[360]

Between 4 and 17 October, four separate missile attacks on the city of Ganja killed 26 civilians, including a 13-year-old Russian citizen,[361] and injured 125[362][363][364][365] with women and children among the victims.[366] The attacks were condemned by the European Union,[367] and Azerbaijani authorities accused the Armenian Armed Forces of "committing war crimes through the firing of ballistic missiles at civilian settlements", calling the third attack "an act of genocide".[368][369][370] Armenia denied responsibility for the attacks.[371][372] The Artsakh Defence Army confirmed responsibility for the first attack but denied targeting residential areas, claiming that it had fired at a military airbase.[373]

On 25 October, a video emerged online of an Armenian teenager in civilian clothing helping soldiers fire artillery on Azerbaijani positions. Azerbaijan subsequently accused Armenia of using child soldiers.[374][375] One day later, the Artsakh ombudsman released a statement claiming that the boy in the video was 16, was not directly engaged in military actions and was working with his father.[376]

The Artsakh Defence Army hit the Azerbaijani town of Barda with missiles twice on 27 and 28 October 2020, resulting in the deaths of 26 civilians and injuring over 83, making it the deadliest attack of the conflict.[377][378][379] The casualties included a 39-year-old Red Crescent volunteer, while two other volunteers were injured.[380] Civilian infrastructure and vehicles were extensively damaged.[381] Armenia denied responsibility,[382] but Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch stated that Armenia had fired, or intentionally supplied Artsakh with, the cluster munitions and Smerch rockets used in the attack.[383][384] Artsakh acknowledged responsibility, but said it was targeting military facilities.[385] Marie Struthers, Amnesty International's Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, said that the "firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery".[386] The Azerbaijani ombudsman called the attack a "terrorist act against civilians".[387] The use of cluster munitions was also reported by The New York Times.[388]

On 30 October 2020, Human Rights Watch reported that Armenia or Artsakh forces used cluster munition and called that Armenia should immediately cease using cluster munitions or supplying them to Nagorno-Karabakh forces.[389]

In mid-November, videos of two wounded Azerbaijani soldiers, Amin Musayev and Bayram Karimov, receiving first aid by Ukrainian journalist Alexander Kharchenko and Armenian soldiers after the ceasefire came into force were spread on social media platforms. Following this, a video was released showing one of them being abused inside a vehicle. It is reported that Musayev was lying on the ground in the car and asked "where are we going?" In response, the alleged Armenian soldier said, "If you behave well, go home," and cursed, after which it became clear that the Azerbaijani soldier had been kicked. On 18 November, a representative of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in Yerevan said that information about these people was "being investigated." The ICRC's representative in Yerevan, Zara Amatuni, also declined to say whether she had any information about the two alleged Azerbaijani soldiers. The Artsakh's Ombudsman said he had no information about Musayev and Karimov, but that if they were injured, they were "probably in hospital in Armenia." The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the issue was being investigated and will be reported to the relevant international organizations. According to the ministry, "the information about the torture of prisoners is first checked for accuracy and brought to the attention of relevant international organizations."[390] On 25 November, ICRC's representatives visited Musayev and Karimov in Yerevan.[391]

Azerbaijani

Camera footage of Azerbaijan's use of cluster munition on Stepanakert during a shelling on 4 October 2020.

On 4 October 2020, the Armenian government stated Azerbaijan had deployed cluster munitions against residential targets in Stepanakert; an Amnesty International investigator condemned this.[392] In an Amnesty International report, the cluster bombs were identified as "Israeli-made M095 DPICM cluster munitions that appear to have been fired by Azerbaijani forces".[393] The next day, Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Zohrab Mnatsakanyan stated to Fox News that the targeting of civilian populations in Nagorno-Karabakh by Azerbaijani forces was tantamount to war crimes and called for an end to the "aggression".[394] In November 2020, Aliyev denied using cluster munitions against civilian areas in Stepanakert on the 1, 2, and 3 October 2020 in an interview with BBC News journalist Orla Guerin, describing as "fake news" the statements of other BBC reporters who witnessed the attacks and described them as "indiscriminate shelling of a town without clear military targets".[395]

During an on-site investigation in Nagorno-Karabakh in October 2020, Human Rights Watch documented four incidents in which Azerbaijan used Israeli-made cluster munitions against civilian areas of Nagorno-Karabakh. The HRW investigation team stated that they did not find any sort of military sites in the residential neighborhoods where the cluster munitions were used and condemned its use against civilian-populated areas. Stephen Goose, arms division director at Human Rights Watch and chair of the Cluster Munition Coalition, stated that "the continued use of cluster munitions – particularly in populated areas – shows flagrant disregard for the safety of civilians". He then added that "the repeated use of cluster munitions by Azerbaijan should cease immediately as their continued use serves to heighten the danger for civilians for years to come". The HRW investigation team also noted that numerous civilian buildings and infrastructure were heavily damaged due to shelling.[396]

On 15 October 2020, a video surfaced of two captured Armenians being executed by Azerbaijani soldiers;[397] Artsakh authorities identified one as a civilian.[398] Bellingcat analysed the videos and concluded that the footage was real and that both executed were Armenian combatants captured by Azerbaijani forces between 9 and 15 October 2020 and later executed.[397] The BBC also investigated the videos and confirmed that the videos were from Hadrut and were filmed some time between 9–15 October 2020. A probe has been launched by Armenia's human rights defender, Arman Tatoyan, who shared the videos with European Court of Human Rights and who will also show the videos to the UN human rights commissioner, the Council of Europe and other international organizations.[399] The U.N. human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, stated that "in-depth investigations by media organisations into videos that appeared to show Azerbaijani troops summarily executing two captured Armenians in military uniforms uncovered compelling and deeply disturbing information".[400]

On 23 November, a criminal case was opened in Azerbaijan over videos of the brutal treatment of the bodies of Armenian POWs, which were spread on the social network. The Prosecutor General's Office of Azerbaijan stated that inhuman treatment could result in criminal prosecution of some soldiers serving in the Azerbaijani Armed Forces. It also stated that many of these videos were fake.[401] Michael Rubin of the Washington Examiner, opining on the beheadings, the torture and mutilations of POWs, stated that, in contrast to Aliyev's reassurance of ethnic Armenians on remaining as residents of Azerbaijan, the actions of the Azerbaijani servicemen "tell a different story".[402]

Official statements

Armenia and Artsakh

President of the National Assembly Ararat Mirzoyan (second from left) leads a moment of silence honoring Armenian soldiers and civilians who perished during the war.

On 27 September 2020, the Prime Minister of Armenia, Nikol Pashinyan, accused the Azerbaijani authorities of a large-scale provocation. The Prime Minister stated that the "recent aggressive statements of the Azerbaijani leadership, large-scale joint military exercises with Turkey, as well as the rejection of OSCE proposals for monitoring" indicated that the aggression was pre-planned and constituted a major violation of regional peace and security.[403] The next day, Armenia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) issued a statement, noting that the "people of Artsakh were at war with the Turkish–Azerbaijani alliance".[404]

The same day, the Armenian ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toganyan, did not rule out that Armenia may turn to Russia for fresh arms supplies.[405] On 29 September 2020, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that Azerbaijan, with military support from Turkey, was expanding the theater into Armenian territory.[406] On 30 September 2020, Pashinyan stated that Armenia was considering officially recognizing the Republic of Artsakh as an independent territory.[407] The same day, the Armenian MoFA stated that the Turkish Air Force had carried out provocative flights along the front between the forces of the Republic of Artsakh and Azerbaijan, including providing air support to the Azerbaijani army.[408]

On 1 October 2020, the President of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, stated that Armenians needed to prepare for a long-term war.[409] Two days later, the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) Foreign Ministry called on the international community to recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh in order to restore regional peace and security.[410]

On 6 October 2020, the Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, stated that the Armenian side was prepared to make concessions, if Azerbaijan was ready to reciprocate.[411]

On 9 October 2020, Armen Sarkissian demanded that international powers, particularly, the United States, Russia and NATO, do more to stop Turkey's involvement in the war and warned that Ankara is creating "another Syria in the Caucasus".[412]

On 21 October 2020, Nikol Pashinyan stated that "it is impossible to talk about a diplomatic solution at this stage, at least at this stage", since the compromise option is not acceptable for Azerbaijan, while the Armenian side stated many times that it is ready to resolve the issue through compromises. Pashinyan said that "to fight for the rights of our people means, first of all, to take up arms and commit to the protection of the rights of the homeland".[413]

On 12 November 2020, Pashinyan addressed his nation, saying that "Armenia and the Armenian people are living extremely difficult days. There is sorrow in the hearts of all of us, tears in the eyes of all of us, pain in the souls of all of us". The prime minister pointed out that the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia reported that the war "must be stopped immediately". And the President of Artsakh warned that if the hostilities do not stop, Stepanakert could be lost in days. Pashinyan also stated that the Karabakh issue was not resolved and is not resolved and that the international recognition of the Artsakh Republic is becoming an absolute priority.[414]

Azerbaijan

Meeting of the Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev with the country's Security Council on 27 September 2020

The day before the conflict, on 26 September 2020, according to the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defence, the Armenian military violated the ceasefire 48 times along the line of contact. Azerbaijan stated that the Armenian side attacked first, prompting an Azerbaijani counter-offensive.[415]

On 27 September 2020, Azerbaijan accused Armenian forces of a "willful and deliberate" attack on the front line[416] and of targeting civilian areas, alleging a "gross violation of international humanitarian law".[417] On 28 September 2020, it stated that Armenia's actions had destroyed the peace negotiations through an act of aggression,[418] alleged that a war had been launched against Azerbaijan, mobilized the people of Azerbaijan, and declared a Great Patriotic War.[419] It then stated that the deployment of the Armenian military in Nagorno-Karabakh constituted a threat to regional peace and accused Armenia of propagandising, adding that the Azerbaijani military was operating according to international law.[420] The Azerbaijani authorities issued a statement accusing the Armenian military of purposefully targeting civilians, including women and children.[421] The Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) denied any reports of Turkish involvement, while admitting military-technical cooperation with Turkey and other countries.[422]

On 29 September 2020, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, spoke about Azerbaijan's territorial integrity. Aliyev stated that Armenian control of the area and aggression had led to the destruction of infrastructure and mosques, caused the Khojaly massacre, and resulted in cultural genocide, insulting the Muslim world and being tantamount to state-backed Islamophobia and anti-Azerbaijani sentiment.[423] The Azerbaijani MoFA demanded that Armenia stop shelling civilians and called on international organizations to ensure Armenia followed international law.[424] The Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia denied reports of mercenaries brought in from Turkey by Azerbaijan,[425] and the First Vice-President of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Mehriban Aliyeva, stated that Azerbaijan had never laid claim to others' territory nor committed crimes against humanity.[426]

On 3 October 2020, Aliyev stated that Armenia needed to leave Azerbaijan's territory (in Nagorno-Karabakh) for the war to stop.[427] The next day, Aliyev issued an official statement that Azerbaijan was "writing a new history", describing Karabakh as an ancient Azerbaijani territory and longstanding home to Azerbaijanis, and noting that Armenians had occupied Azerbaijan's territory, destroying its religious and cultural heritage, for three decades. He added that Azerbaijan would restore its cities and destroyed mosques and accused Armenia of distorting history.[428]

Two days later, Aliyev's aide, Hikmat Hajiyev, claimed that Armenia had deployed cluster munitions against cities,[429] however this has not been verified by other sources. On 7 October 2020, Azerbaijan officially notified members of the World Conference on Constitutional Justice, the Conference of European Constitutional Courts, the Association of Asian Constitutional Courts and similar organizations that it had launched the operation in line with international law to re-establish its internationally recognized territorial integrity and for the safety of its people.[430] He also accused Armenia of ethnic discrimination on account of the historical expulsion or self-exile of ethnic minority communities, highlighting its mono-ethnic population.[431]

On 10 October 2020, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov stated that the truce signed on the same day was temporary.[432] Despite this, Aliyev stated that both parties were now attempting to determine a political resolution to the conflict.[433] The next day, Azerbaijani authorities stated that Armenia was conducting an act of genocide, emphasizing the Khojaly massacre.[434]

On 21 October 2020, Aliyev, stated that Azerbaijan did not ruled out the introduction international observers and peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh, but will put forward some conditions when the time comes.[435] He then added that Azerbaijan did not agree for a referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh,[436] but didn't exclude the cultural autonomy of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh,[435] and reaffirmed that the Azerbaijan considers Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh as their citizens, promising security and rights.[437]

On 26 October 2020, Aliyev, stated that the Azerbaijani government will inspect and record the destruction by Armenian forces in Armenian-occupied territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh during the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[438]

Allegations of third-party involvement

Because of the geography, history, and sensitivities of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, accusations, allegations, and statements have been made of involvement by third-party and international actors, including in media reports and by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR). Evidence of the presence of Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan is increasing.[439] The OHCHR stated that there were reports about mercenaries on both sides, and called for their withdrawal from Nagorno-Karabakh.[440]

Turkey and Syrian National Army

Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Ilham Aliyev on a 2020 visit to Baku.

Prior to the beginning of the conflict, Turkey's upped rhetoric against Armenia, as well as its recruitment of several hundred Syrian refugees had been reported the previous week by Syrian commentators, activists and others on social media, circulated among Syrian refugees, dissidents and others who monitor Syria.[441] Detailed reporting on the evidence of Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan exists, as well as apparent Turkish military involvement, causing international concern. Two days into the conflict, several Syrian National Army (SNA) members and the SOHR[40] alleged that a private Turkish security company was recruiting Syrians to fight in Artsakh;[442] Azerbaijan [443] and Turkey issued denials. France24, The Independent and The Guardian have reported evidence of Syrian mercenaries recruited in Syria by Turkey to fight alongside the Azerbaijani servicemen in Nagorno-Karabakh.[444][445][446][447] A report in The Times partially confirmed Turkish involvement in sending 200 Syrian fighters to support Azerbaijani forces;[448] a Turkish-based source reported that these were acting independently of the SNA.[3]

Emmanuel Macron accused Turkey of dispatching Syrian "jihadists" to Nagorno-Karabakh via Gaziantep[1] while Russia expressed concern over "illegal armed units" from Syria and Libya being present in the conflict zone.[449] Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reiterated Macron's concerns.[450] On 3 October 2020, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that Syrian fighters, together with Turkish army specialists, were involved, along with circa 150 senior Turkish military officers, allegedly directing military operations.[451] The National Security Service of Armenia presented intercepts, allegedly between the Turkish and Azerbaijani military, and between the Azerbaijani military and mercenaries.[452] U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo stated that Turkey's involvement in the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia has increased the risk in the region, inflaming the situation by arming the Azerbaijanis.[453] As of 18 October 2020, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that 2000 mercenaries were recruited in Syria by Turkey and transferred to fight in Nagorno Karabakh.[454]

On 2 October 2020, Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported 700–1,000 militants had apparently been sent to Azerbaijan and detailed their transport and recruitment itinerary, referring to the Hamza Division and the Samarkand and Nureddin Zinki Brigades.[455] The Georgian State Security Service stated news about the passage of Syrian fighters from Turkey through Georgia to Azerbaijan was disinformation.[456] On 3 October 2020, Elizabeth Tsurkov, an American expert on Syria, reported on videos of Arabic-speaking foreigners, who she identified as likely Syrian mercenaries in Horadiz, urging compatriots to join them.[439][457] Subsequently, Tsurkov detailed the recruitment, by the Hamza Division and Sultan Murad and Sultan Suleyman Shah Brigades, of at least a thousand mercenaries to Azerbaijan, including civilians with no fighting experience who had been informed they would be guarding oil facilities but were then sent to the front.[458] On 5 October 2020, Russian News Agency RIA Novosti stated that 322 Syrian mercenaries were in the conflict zone and that 93 had been killed, while 430 from Syria had already arrived.[459] On 6 October 2020, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service alleged that several thousand fighters from Middle East terrorist organizations had arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh to fight for Azerbaijan, specifically from Jabhat al-Nusra (al-Qaeda branch), Firkat Hamza, and the Sultan Murad Division, stating all were linked to the Islamic State (ISIL).[460][461] On 7 October 2020, Asia Times reported that mercenaries allegedly signed up to go to Azerbaijan for US$1,500 a month.[462] Kommersant states that during the first week of October up to 1300 Syrian militants and 150 Libyan mercenaries deployed to Azerbaijan.[463]

On 16 October 2020, Kommersant provided details of Turkish military involvement. Turkish servicemen had apparently remained in Azerbaijan after joint military drills this summer, to coordinate and direct the planning and conducting of the operations. Six hundred servicemen had stayed on, including a tactical battalion of 200 people, 50 instructors in Nakhchivan, 90 military advisers in Baku, 120 flight personnel at the airbase in Qabala; 20 drone operators at Dollyar Air Base, 50 instructors at the aviabase in Yevlakh, 50 instructors in the 4th Army Corps in Perekeshkul and 20 others at the naval base and Azerbaijan Higher Military Academy in Baku. According to the source, forces included 18 Turkish infantry fighting vehicles, one multiple launch rocket system, 10 vehicles and up to 34 aircraft, including 6 warplanes, 8 helicopters and up to 20 military intelligence drones.[463] On 17 October 2020, the Armenian National Security Service stated that Azerbaijan is smuggling in a significant amount of ammunition, mercenaries and terrorists from Afghanistan and Pakistan.[464]

The SOHR confirmed a total of 320 Syrian fighters in Azerbaijan, primarily of Syrian-Turkmen descent from the Sultan Murad Division, and initially stated that they had not participated in the clashes. It stated that Arab-majority Syrian rebel groups had in fact refused to send their fighters to Azerbaijan.[465] On 1 October 2020, the SOHR confirmed the deaths of 28 Syrian fighters and nearly 60 injured or missing.[466] On 3 November 2020, the SOHR stated that at least 250 pro-Turkey Syrian rebel fighters, who were among more than 2,580 combatants, had been killed in clashes.[42] An unidentified SNA leader, the Jesr Press and a The Guardian article confirmed the deaths of dozens of Syrian fighters.[467][468][469] On 14 October 2020, The Washington Post reported the deaths in Karabakh of more than 50 Syrian mercenaries, most of them hired by Turkey.[470][471] Prime Minister Pashinyan in an interview given to French newspaper Le Figaro wrote that 30% of Azerbaijani forces killed in hostilities were foreign mercenaries.[472][473]

Canada has suspended the export of its drone technology to Turkey over concerns that it is using the technology in the conflict.[474]

Armenian and non-Armenian volunteers

Artsakh's president Arayik Harutyunyan awarding an Armenian volunteer for allegedly capturing a Syrian mercenary on 2 November 2020.[475]

On 28 September 2020, the Azerbaijani MoD alleged that among the Armenian casualties were "mercenaries" of Armenian origin from Syria and a variety of Middle East countries.[476] On the same day, the Turkish Minister of Defence stated that Armenia must "send back the mercenaries and terrorists it brought from abroad".[477] Two days later, Azerbaijani authorities asked the international community to "adequately respond to the use of terrorist forces by Armenia".[478] On 30 September 2020, the SOHR also stated that Armenian-born Syrian fighters were being transported to Armenia to fight against Azerbaijan.[479] The next day, Azerbaijani authorities stated that Armenia had widely employed foreign "terrorist forces" and "mercenaries" against it, with there being evidence of people of Armenian origin from the Middle East, especially Syria and Lebanon, and subsequently Russia, Georgia, Greece, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.[480] A Novaya Gazeta report, citing Lebanese Ministry of Internal Affairs intelligence, stated around 500 ethnic Armenian Lebanese had travelled to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh.[481] On early October, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that Armenians from Lebanon, who were members of Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia, a militant group listed as a terrorist organization by the United States, had supported Armenia in the war.[482] Greek City Times have reported that about 500-800 Armenians from Greece, as well as some Greeks volunteered to the war on Armenia's side.[483] An Armenian defence ministry official has said many from the diaspora applied to volunteer without giving a precise number. Hundreds from as far afield as Argentina and the United States have rushed back to Armenia for combat training, a local instructor says. Karapet Aghajanyan, the combat instructor in Yerevan, who trains local and foreign volunteers, told Reuters around 10 Lebanese-Armenians have received training in his camp.[484] France 24 spoke to soldiers including Armenian diaspora from France fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh.[485]

Kurdish militias

On 30 September 2020, Turkish sources alleged that approximately 300 PKK militants were transported to Nagorno-Karabakh via Iran. However, these claims were not substantiated by evidence.[486][487] The Armenian President, Armen Sarkissian, has denied the Turkish allegations of PKK fighters being present in Armenia, describing them as "absolute nonsense".[488] On 6 October 2020, the Azerbaijani State Security Service (SSS) claimed, citing intercepts, that Armenia had employed foreign mercenaries, including members of Kurdish militant groups whom Armenia had brought from Iraq and Syria, to fight Azerbaijan.[489] On the same day, Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service alleged that there were Kurdish extremist groups, which, according to Al-Monitor, are fighting on the Armenian side, while there is no direct evidence of it.[490] On early October, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported that there was evidence of Armenia being supported by the Martyr Nubar Ozanyan Brigade militants, part of the Syrian Democratic Forces, associated with the PKK.[482] This was denied by Armenia.[491]

Arms supplies

Israel

Israel, a major trading partner and weapons supplier for Azerbaijan, is reported to have continued to ship weapons, especially drones, during the conflict.[492] Nikol Pashinyan heavily criticized Israel for selling arms to Azerbaijan and its allies saying that they are working with "mercenaries and terrorists", who are targeting peaceful population.[493][494]

Russia, Iran and Georgia

During the conflict, Azerbaijani and Iranian media reported that Russian weaponry and military hardware were being transported to Armenia via Iran.[19] On 29 September 2020, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied these reports.[22] The next day, Azerbaijani government-affiliated media outlets shared footage reportedly showing the materiel being transported.[20][21][495] Azerbaijani MP Sabir Rustamkhanli alleged that Iran was engaged in transporting weapons from various countries to Armenia.[496] Subsequently, in the Azerbaijani Parliament, Rustamkhanli suggested opening an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel.[497] The Chief of Staff of the President of Iran, in a phone call with the Deputy Prime Minister of Azerbaijan, denied the reports and stated that they were aimed at disrupting both countries' relations.[23] Iranian state-affiliated media stated that trucks depicted in the footage consisted of shipments of Kamaz trucks that the Armenian government had previously purchased from Russia.[498]

Azerbaijan's president initially stated that Georgia had not allowed the transportation of weapons through its territory and thanked Georgia, as a partner and friend.[499] However, in a subsequent interview, he alleged that Armenia was misusing one of its Il-76 cargo planes for civil flights, to secretly transport fighters and Kornet anti-tank missiles from Russia through Georgian airspace into Armenia.[500] Georgia responded by stating that its airspace was closed to all military and military cargo flights but not for civil and humanitarian ones.[501]

Serbia

Azerbaijan has stated that Armenia is employing Serbian weapons, alleged to have been transported via Georgia.[502] In response, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, stated that Serbia considers both Armenia and Azerbaijan to be friends and "brotherly nations", insisting that Serbian weapons were not being used in Nagorno-Karabakh.[503]

International reactions

OSCE Minsk Group

On 2 October 2020, the OSCE Minsk Group, responsible for mediating the peace process in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict since 1992, condemned the fighting and called on those involved in the conflict to respect their obligations to protect civilians. The Minsk Group stated that participation by "external parties" was working against the peace process. The group called for an immediate ceasefire, and "substantive negotiations, in good faith and without preconditions".[115]

Supranational and regional organizations

Secretary-General of the Turkic Council, Baghdad Amreyev, in Baku on 2 November 2020.

President of the European Council Charles Michel called for a bilateral cessation of hostilities, as did the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)[504] on 1 October and 5 October 2020, and Secretary-General of the United Nations António Guterres followed by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). Following a closed council meeting, the Security Council issued a statement. It condemned the use of force and reiterated the Secretary-General's call to immediately cease fighting, deescalate tensions and return to meaningful negotiations. It further expressed concern at "large scale military actions", regret at the death toll and impact on civilian populations, and complete support for the "central role" of the OSCE, urging both sides to cooperate towards an urgent return of dialogue without setting preconditions.[93] On 18 October 2020, the UN Secretary-General again called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect the humanitarian truce and condemned attacks on civilians.[505] Similarly, Secretary General of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, expressed deep concern for the escalation of hostilities and called for the sides to immediately halt fighting and progress towards a peaceful resolution, urging NATO-member Turkey to use its influence to that end.[506][507] Stoltenberg expressed NATO's neutrality and said that both "Armenia and Azerbaijan have been valued NATO partners for more than 25 years".[508] NATO and the European Union (EU) have refused to publicly criticize Turkey's involvement in the conflict.[506][509]

Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro demanded that Azerbaijan cease hostilities,[510] whereas the Turkic Council demanded an unconditional withdrawal of Armenia from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan,[511] and adding that Turkic world have stood by "brotherly Azerbaijan".[512] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation initially condemned Armenian "provocations"[513] and subsequently expressed concern regarding Armenia's violations of the 10 October 2020 humanitarian ceasefire and conditional solidarity with the Republic of Azerbaijan, highlighting the OIC stance and that of the UNSC and urging a political solution to the conflict, and affirming respect for Azerbaijan's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and internationally recognized borders.[514]

On 19 October 2020, at the request of Russia, the United States, and France, the United Nations Security Council held closed consultations on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.[515] After discussions, a draft declaration was prepared on behalf of the President of the Security Council. The draft declaration did not contain a reference to the previous UN Security Council resolutions regarding the topic. According to Hikmat Hajiyev, this project was mainly prepared by Russia and France.[516] However, non-permanent members of the Security Council, who are the members of the Non-Aligned Movement at the same time, twice violated the silence procedure, insisting on the inclusion in the statement of a reference to the UN Security Council resolutions. Following the persistent and principled position of the member states of the Non-Aligned Movement, the draft statement in question was formally withdrawn. President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev, who is also the Chairman of Non-Aligned Movement [517] thanked those states including Indonesia, Niger, Tunisia, Vietnam, South Africa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and the Dominican Republic for their fair position, announcing that he will continue to defend the interests of the member states, international law, and justice in the UN and other international organizations.[518]

Countries

Russia

Being a co-chair of OSCE Minsk Group, Russia's main role in this conflict is that of a mediator. On 2 October 2020, along with the other two co-chairs of the Group, France and the U.S., it called for immediate cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, and asked both sides to continue negotiations without preconditions.[519] On 6 October 2020, the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif expressed concern about the involvement of Syrian and Libyan fighters in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with the possible support of Turkey.[520][521] Both Russia and Armenia are part of a mutual defence pact. However, on 8 October 2020, President Vladimir Putin expressed that the fighting is not happening on the territory of Armenia and therefore Russia would not intervene in the current conflict.[522] He also affirmed Russia's good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. On 9 October 2020, Lavrov mediated a ceasefire after 10 hours of talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers in Moscow. The ceasefire was quickly broken.[523] On 22 October 2020, Putin indicated that the root of the conflict lines in interethnic clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in the 1980s, and specifically referred to the massacre of Armenians in Sumgait.[524][525]

United States

On 27 September 2020, United States president Donald Trump said his administration was "looking at [the conflict] very strongly" and that it was seeing whether it could stop it.[526] Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden demanded that Turkey "stay out" of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[527] In a letter to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Bob Menendez, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and several other lawmakers called for the Trump administration to immediately suspend U.S. military aid to Azerbaijan,[528][529] sent through Pentagon's "building partner assistance program".[529][530] Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the influence of third party actors like Turkey "troubling".[531] On 15 October 2020, Pompeo urged both sides to respect the humanitarian ceasefire and stated, "We now have the Turks, who have stepped in and provided resources to Azerbaijan, increasing the risk, increasing the firepower that's taking place in this historic fight... The resolution of that conflict ought to be done through negotiation and peaceful discussions, not through armed conflict, and certainly not with third party countries coming in to lend their firepower to what is already a powder keg of a situation".[532]

A number of U.S. congressmen were more vocal in their criticism of the Azerbaijani side. On 22 October 2020, Representative Frank Pallone said he would introduce a bipartisan resolution with the backing of several dozen colleagues that "support[s] the Republic of Artsakh, recognizing its right to self-determination, and condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey for aggression".[533] At least one congressman, Brad Sherman, called for the imposition of sanctions against Azerbaijan through the Magnitsky Act.[534]

On 23 October 2020, President Trump stated that "good progress" was being made on reaching an agreement in the conflict, saying: "We are talking about this; we are talking with Armenia. We have very good relations with Armenia. They're great people and we're going to help them".[535] On 25 October 2020, U.S. National Security Advisor Robert C. O'Brien announced that Armenia has accepted a ceasefire, Azerbaijan has not yet but they are "pushing them to do so".[536] Later that day it was announced that both sides had agreed with a humanitarian ceasefire from the next day morning.[537]

The Armenian ambassador to the United States, Varuzhan Nersesyan, had invited United States intervention in the conflict, as had his Azerbaijani counterpart Elin Suleymanov.[538]

Turkey

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu on 6 October 2020.

The governments of Turkey and Pakistan expressed support for Azerbaijan. Turkey blamed Armenia for violating the ceasefire[539][540][541] and Turkish President Erdogan initially urged Azerbaijan to persist with its campaign until it had retaken all territory lost in the First Nagorno-Karabakh War.[507] Erdogan criticized the failed activities of the OSCE Minsk Group in the last 25 years as "stalling tactics" preventing a diplomatic solution.[542] Further, Turkey issued a statement on 1 October 2020 dismissing the joint demands from France, Russia, and the United States calling for a ceasefire.[543][544] Northern Cyprus, a self-declared state recognized only by Turkey, expressed support for Azerbaijan.[545]

Turkey accused Canada of a "double standard" in freezing military exports to Turkey but not Saudi Arabia, which is involved in military intervention in Yemen.[546]

Others

Iranian Presidential Envoy led by Abbas Araghchi in Baku on 28 October 2020.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed Turkey for the conflict,[450] while Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias, on a visit to Yerevan on 16 October 2020, said that it was critical to end foreign interference, warning that Turkey's intervention was raising serious international concerns.[547]

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin expressed sorrow at the resumption of violence and loss of life, stating that Israel's long-standing cooperation and relations with Azerbaijan was not for offensive purposes, adding that Israel was interested in promoting relations with Armenia and was prepared to offer humanitarian aid.[548] However, Nikol Pashinyan heavily criticized Israel for selling arms to Azerbaijan and its allies saying that they are working with "mercenaries and terrorists", who are targeting a peaceful population.[493][494] Armenia recalled its ambassador to Israel for consultations. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan also rejected the humanitarian aid proposed by Israel and stated that the country should send that aid to the "terrorists".[549] Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz accused Turkey of disrupting peace efforts in the region and called for international pressure on Turkey to dissuade "direct terrorism".[550] Israel declined to comment on the possibility of halting support for Azerbaijan.[551]

Hungary stated it backed Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, adding it supports the reduction of tensions in the escalating conflict and a negotiated OSCE Minsk Group solution.[552][553] Ukraine stated that it supports Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, would not provide military assistance to either state,[554][555][556] and wanted to avoid an ethnic conflict between its own Armenian and Azerbaijani communities.[557] Iran stated that no military solution to the conflict existed and expressed support for Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, emphasizing the need for a ceasefire and political dialogue and expressing concern over the conflict.[558][559] While the supreme leader Ali Khamenei told that Azerbaijan is "entitled to liberate its occupied territories", and that the security of Armenian minority should be ensured.[560] Albania stated that it supports territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and called both sides to solve conflict with peaceful negotiations.[561]

Representatives of countries, including Argentina,[562] Canada,[563] Chile,[564] China,[565] Croatia,[566] Estonia,[567][568] France,[569][570][571] Georgia,[572] Germany,[539] Greece,[573] India,[574][575] Indonesia,[576] Iran,[577][578][579] Kazakhstan,[580] Latvia,[581][582] Lithuania,[583][582] Moldova,[584] Poland,[585] Romania,[586][587] Russia,[570][571][588] Saudi Arabia,[589] the United Kingdom,[590] the United States,[570][571][591] Uruguay,[592] and the Holy See,[539] have called for a peaceful resolution to the conflict. Afghanistan called for an end to Armenian occupation in Nagorno-Karabakh while calling for a cease-fire, urging the parties involved to resolve the long-standing crisis peacefully.[593] Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina Šefik Džaferović and the leader of the Party of Democratic Action, Bakir Izetbegović, voiced support for Azerbaijan, condemning Armenia and comparing the situation with the 1992–1995 Bosnian War.[594][595] Cyprus condemned Azerbaijan for breaching the ceasefire and for any escalating actions, calling for a return to peaceful negotiations.[596]

The unrecognized or partially recognized countries of Transnistria, Abkhazia and South Ossetia recognize the independence of the Republic of Artsakh and have expressed support for it.[597][598][599][600][601][602]

The Russian-Armenian film director Sarik Andreasyan accused Ukraine by addressing the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky in supplying Azerbaijan with phosphorus bombs. Zelensky answered his post in Instagram by denying any involvement in the conflict.[603][604]

Humanitarian organizations

Human rights groups have objected to the use of heavy explosive weapons with wide-area effects in densely populated civilian areas and urged both sides to end the conflict and join the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[605][606] Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Azerbaijan[605][607][608] and Armenia[609][384] for the use of cluster munitions.

Minorities abroad

Armenians

Armenian diaspora held numerous protests globally in support of Armenia and Artsakh (pictured in Los Angeles (left) and Barcelona (right)).

Ethnic Armenian populations around the world have lobbied for peace negotiations.[331] On 1 October, the South Ossetian Armenian community condemned Azerbaijan and Turkey, urging recognition of Artsakh's independence.[610] The next day, Armenians in Samtskhe–Javakheti, in Georgia, expressed concern and their intention to send aid.[611] Subsequently, Georgia closed its border with Armenia, indicating frustration within Georgia's Armenian minority.[612] Croatia's Armenian diaspora's leader asked for support against what she described as a genocide against the Armenians.[613] On 5 October, Armenian Americans protested outside the Los Angeles (LA) CNN building, calling for more accurate coverage.[614] On 11 October, the LA community held a 100,000-person strong protest march to the Turkish Consulate, in tandem with smaller protests in Washington, San Francisco, New York City, Boston and elsewhere in the United States.[615][616] LA's mayor expressed support for Armenia and the city's Armenian community by lighting up City Hall with the Armenian flag's colours.[617][618] A protest was held in Orange Country during President Trump's pre-election rally calling on him to sanction Turkey and Azerbaijan; Trump praised them by saying, "the people from Armenia have great spirit for their country".[619][620] Protests have occurred all over Europe demanding recognition of Artsakh's independence, with the largest rallies held in Paris, France and in front the Council of the European Union in Brussels, Belgium.[621] A major rally was held in Aleppo, Syria by Armenians and Syrians condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey.[622] Armenian communities have also protested globally, notably in Argentina,[623] Australia,[624] Canada,[625] and Uruguay.[626]

In October 2020, an organized email campaign by the Armenians resulted in hundreds of emails being sent to SpaceX and the media requesting that SpaceX cancel their upcoming satellite launch for Turkey. SpaceX did not respond.[627] On October 29, 2020, several hundred Armenians gathered outside SpaceX headquarters in Los Angeles to protest the launch of the Turkish satellite and to persuade SpaceX from doing so. Protesters believe the satellite could be used for military purposes. SpaceX has still not responded and representatives refused to speak to the news.[628][629]

On 4 November, around 8:30 p.m. local time, allegedly a group of six to eight Armenian men between 20 and 30 years old walked into a Turkish restaurant on South Beverly Drive, saying that they came to "kill the Turks",[630] began destroying property inside the establishment and physically attacking the employees both inside and in an alley outside.[631] The victims sustained minor injuries and refused medical treatment at the scene.[630] Beverly Hills Police Department began investigating the incident as a hate crime.[632] Beverly Hills Mayor called it an "unacceptable act of hate and violence", adding that there was "no place for this behavior.[633] Turkey's ambassador to US, strongly condemned the attack, calling Los Angeles Mayor to do the same, and urging federal and local authorities to protect Turkish Americans there.[634][635]

On September 27, a nationwide fundraising campaign was launched by Armenia Fund under the motto "We and Our Borders: All for Artsakh"; getting more than $150 million donations in a month.[636][637] On October 28, an online musical event featuring Armenian and foreign artists was held to raise awareness and funds for Artsakh.[638]

Azerbaijanis and Turks

Turks and Azerbaijanis demonstrating in support of Azerbaijan in Turkey.

On 1 October, Ali Khamenei's representatives in four provinces (Ardabil, East Azerbaijan, West Azerbaijan and Zanjan) stated that Nagorno-Karabakh belonged to Azerbaijan, that there was a need to return the territory, and that Azerbaijan's government had acted in accordance with the law.[639][558] The next day, several protests erupted in Iranian cities, including the capital Tehran and Tabriz, in support of Azerbaijan. Iranian Azerbaijani demonstrators chanted pro-Azerbaijan slogans.[640] The local security forces intervened, detaining at least 38 people.[641] The same day, around 50 Azerbaijani representatives from the 5,000-strong community in Moldova expressed their support for Azerbaijan in the capital Chișinău.[642] On 3 October, Azerbaijanis in Georgia indicated a readiness to fight for Azerbaijan and the desire that Azerbaijan retake Nagorno-Karabakh.[643] On 16 October, Azerbaijanis, Iranian Azerbaijanis, and Turks living in the United Kingdom gathered in front of Amnesty International's London headquarters and held a protest rally, condemning the shelling of residential areas and civilians in Ganja, Mingachevir, Tartar, and other regions.[644] The next day, Azerbaijani Americans held a rally in Chicago, condemning the attacks on Ganja.[645] The following day, British Azerbaijanis commemorated those killed during the attacks in front of the Azerbaijani embassy in London.[646] while Georgian Azerbaijanis held a rally in front the Parliament Building in Tbilisi.[647] On the same day, Russian Azerbaijanis dedicated part of the entrance door of Azerbaijan's embassy to Russia in Moscow to the memory of the victims of the 17 October attack.[648] Protests erupted in Tabriz, with many Iranian Azerbaijanis chanting pro-Azerbaijani slogans and protesting Iran's alleged arms support to Armenia via the Nordooz border crossing.[649] Iranian security forces intervened, detaining over 200 people.[650] On 23 October, American Azerbaijanis gathered in a pro-Trump rally and voiced their support for Azerbaijan,[651] while in San Francisco and Minnesota, Azerbaijanis rallied and condemned Armenia for "the ballistic missile attacks" on cities.[652][653][654] On 26 October, Azerbaijanis organized rallies in Bielefeld, Germany, and Copenhagen, Denmark.[655][656]

Amid tensions among protesters over Nagorno-Karabakh, dozens of Turks and Azerbaijanis marched through the streets of Lyon, France in the evening of 28 October 2020 and chanted pro-Erdogan slogans while threatening Armenians.[657][658] It followed clashes between members of France's Turkish and Armenian communities on a motorway connecting Lyon and Marseille on Wednesday morning. A demonstration of support for Armenia led to the blocking of the A7 motorway. Four were wounded after violence broke out, including a 23-year-old Armenian who was hospitalized after receiving a hammer blow.[657][659] A few days later, the Lyon Armenian Genocide Memorial was vandalized with pro-Turkey graffiti and insults by the Grey Wolves, a Turkish ultranationalistic group.[660] Following the memorial's vandalisation, France banned the Grey Wolves and enhanced security near Armenian schools and churches in Lyon.[661][662]

Sports

Due to the conflict, UEFA announced that the 2020–21 UEFA Nations League C home matches of Armenia and Azerbaijan would no longer be hosted in the countries; instead Armenia will play their designated "home" game in Tychy, Poland; while Azerbaijan will play in Elbasan, Albania.[663]

On 31 October 2020, the Armenian Football Federation called on FIFA and UEFA for sanctions against Azerbaijani club Qarabağ FK, after its PR and media manager Nurlan Ibrahimov made a hate speech on social network calling to "kill all the Armenians, old and young, without distinction".[664] The next day, he was punished in an administrative manner for the calls he made expressing cruelty against another nation and inciting national, racial or religious hatred while behaving emotionally on social network.[665] UEFA announced that it has life banned the Qarabağ official for the "racist and other discriminatory conduct” targeting Armenians and fined Qarabağ €100,000.[666][667][668]

Celebrities

Celebrities have commented on the conflict, with some amending their initial positions, including Cardi B and Elton John who subsequently claimed that they were not taking any sides.[669][670] Those in favor of Armenia include Mel Gibson, Ronda Rousey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Peter Gabriel, Sean Penn, Michael B. Jordan, Kylie Jenner, Tinashe and Cher.[671][672][673][674][675][676][677][678] Kim Kardashian and other Kardashians have posted video messages in support of Armenia; donating $1 million to the Armenia Fund.[679][680] Rapper Kanye West posted a tweet stated he would pray for Armenia.[681] Armenian-American rock band System of a Down released their first material in 15 years since 2005 album Hypnotize, "Protect the Land" and "Genocidal Humanoidz" in response to the crisis. They used the singles as a fundraiser for the Armenia Fund, with the intention to raise awareness of the war.[682]

Arsenal footballer Mesut Özil and singer Sami Yusuf tweeted,[683][684] while former Barcelona player Ronaldinho released a video message in support of Azerbaijan.[685] Several Turkish celebrities, including Sinan Akçıl,[686] Hadise, Bergüzar Korel,[687] Acun Ilıcalı,[688] Kenan İmirzalıoğlu,[689] Tarkan, Cem Yılmaz[690] also shared their condolences and support to Azerbaijan.

Recognition of Artsakh

French Senate adopts resolution calling for recognition of the Republic of Artsakh. 25 November 2020

Due to the ongoing hostilities, the urgent motion on recognizing the independence of the Republic of Artsakh has been passed in different cities and towns.[691][692][693][694][695][696] On 25 November the French Senate adopted resolution calling on the French government to recognize the independence of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[697] The resolution serves as a recommendation and has no mandatory power. French Secretary of State at the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne stated that "unilateral recognition of Karabakh will do no good for anyone" and will not serve to boost mediation efforts.[698] The French Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Zacharie Gross, had stated that "unilateral recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is not the policy of the French government".[699] Azerbaijan's parliament condemned the resolution of the French Senate and called on the Azerbaijani government to appeal to the OSCE to remove France from the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship.[700] The parliament's chairman, Sahiba Gafarova, stated that the resolution had "distorted the essence of the conflict." Stressing that France is a co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Gafarova added that "this country, which speaks of freedom and democracy, has never made a distinction between the occupier and the occupied, and has shown a biased position."[701] The Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry also issued a note of protest to the French Ambassador.[702] On 27 November, Turkey's Justice and Development Party (AKP), the Republican People's Party (CHP), the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) and the İYİ Party issued a joint statement condemning the French Senate's resolution on Artsakh's recognition.[703] The Artsakh Foreign Ministry issued a statement expressing gratitude “to the senators and all the individuals and organisations because of whose efforts the adoption of this historical decision became a reality.”[704] However, two days later French Foreign Ministry spokesperson made a statement stating “France does not recognize the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.” despite a resolution adopted by France’s Senate.[705]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Denied by Azerbaijan[5][6] and Turkey.[7]
  2. ^ Turkey and Azerbaijan deny direct involvement of Turkey.[9][10][11]
  3. ^ Alleged by Azerbaijan,[18] and reports that Russia supplied arms to Armenia via Iran.[19][20][21] It has been denied by Iran.[22][23]
  4. ^ For a more detailed map, see military situation in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
  5. ^  • In Armenia, local media sometimes refer to it as Azerbaijani aggression (Armenian: ադրբեջանական ագրեսիա, romanizedadrbejanakan agreˈsia, Armenian pronunciation: [ɑdɾbɛdʒɑnɑˈkɑn ɑgˈɾɛsjɑ])[72][73] or the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression (Armenian: ադրբեջանա-թուրքական ագրեսիա, romanizedadrbejana-t'urk'akan agreˈsia, Armenian pronunciation: [ɑdɾbɛdʒɑnɑ-tʰuɾkʰɑkɑn ɑgˈɾɛsjɑ]).[74]
        • In Azerbaijan, it has been referred to Second Karabakh War (Azerbaijani: İkinci Qarabağ müharibəsi),[75] The Patriotic War (Azerbaijani: Vətən müharibəsi),[76][77] Operation for peace enforcement of Armenia (Azerbaijani: Ermənistanı sülhə məcburetmə əməliyyatı),[78] or Counter-offensive operation[79] (Azerbaijani: Əks-hücum əməliyyatı) by the government.
  6. ^ At the end of Soviet period, the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast was recorded as being populated by 76.9% Armenians, 21.5% Azerbaijanis, and 1.5% other groups, totalling 188,685 persons, in the 1989 census. The surrounding districts, occupied by the Republic of Artsakh since the 1994 ceasefire, were recorded in the 1979 census to have a population of 97.7% Azerbaijanis, 1.3% Kurds, 0.7% Russians, 0.1% Armenians, and 0.1% Lezgins, for a total of 186,874 persons. This does not include the populations of Fuzuli Rayon and Agdam Rayon, which were only partially under Armenian control before the 2020 war.

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