Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact
The Nagorno-Karabakh line of contact (Armenian: շփման գիծ, shp’man gits, Azerbaijani: təmas xətti) is a militarized separation barrier that separates the Armenian forces (namely the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army) and the Azerbaijan Armed Forces in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It was formed in the aftermath of the May 1994 ceasefire that ended the Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988–94). The mountain range of Murovdag (Mrav) is the northern part of the line of contact and is essentially a natural border between the two forces. The length of the line of contact is not well-defined. According to various sources it ranges from 180 kilometres (110 mi) to 200 kilometres (120 mi).
The line of contact was, immediately after the ceasefire, a "relatively quiet zone with barbed wire and lightly armed soldiers sitting in trenches", according to Thomas de Waal. There was also a relatively large no-man’s land after the ceasefire which was several kilometers wide in some places. It was reduced to a few hundred meters in most areas of the line of contact due to Azerbaijani redeployments into the former neutral zone. By contrast, in 2016, there were around 20,000 men on each side of the heavily militarized line of contact. Since the ceasefire the line of contact has become a heavily militarized, fortified and mined no-man's-land and a buffer zone of trenches. According to de Waal, it is the "most militarised zone in the wider Europe," and one of the three most militarized zones in the world (along with Kashmir and Korea). The trenches along the line of contact have been extensively compared to those of World War I.
The line of contact is regularly monitored by a group of six OSCE observers, headed by Andrzej Kasprzyk of Poland. There are exchanges of fire virtually on a daily basis. There have been occasional significant violations of the ceasefire, usually characterized by low-intensity fighting. Significant fighting occurred in April 2016, when for the first time since the ceasefire the line of contact was shifted, though not significantly.
Some Armenian analysts, including Ara Papian encourage the Armenian side to avoid the term "line of contact", instead calling it a "state border" between Artsakh and Azerbaijan. Independent journalist and author Tatul Hakobyan writes of it as a state border of Azerbaijan and Artsakh and notes it is called the "line of contact" in international lexicon.
- Smolnik, Franziska (2016). Secessionist Rule: Protracted Conflict and Configurations of Non-state Authority. Campus Verlag. p. 12. ISBN 9783593506296.
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the northern flank – by the hard-to-access Mrav mountain range
- Elbakyan, Edgar (16 May 2014). "Արցախի տարածքն անբաժանելի է". Hayastani Hanrapetutyun (in Armenian).
բնական սահմաններ հասցնելու համար, որը հյուսիսում Մռավի լեռնաշղթան է, իսկ հարավում՝ Արաքս գետը
- Freizer, Sabine (2014). "Twenty years after the Nagorny Karabakh ceasefire: an opportunity to move towards more inclusive conflict resolution". Caucasus Survey. 1 (2): 2. doi:10.1080/23761199.2014.11417295.
- de Waal, Thomas (24 July 2013). "The Two NKs". Carnegie Moscow Center.
- Hakobyan, Tatul (24 March 2018). "Emil Sanamyan: Nakhichevan Remains the Quietest Stretch of Armenian-Azerbaijani Frontline". civilnet.am.
- de Waal, Thomas (2 April 2016). "Dangerous Days in Karabakh". Carnegie Moscow Center.
- Bagirova, Nailia; Mkrtchyan, Hasmik (4 April 2016). "Armenia warns Nagorno-Karabakh clashes could turn into all-out war". Reuters.
- Kao, Lauren (11 May 2016). "Eight Things You Need to Know About Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict". Eurasian Research and Analysis (ERA) Institute.
- de Waal, Thomas (3 April 2016). "Nagorno-Karabakh's cocktail of conflict explodes again". BBC News.
- Toal, Gerard; O'Loughlin, John (6 April 2016). "Here are the 5 things you need to know about the deadly fighting in Nagorno Karabakh". The Washington Post.
- Lynch, Dov (2001). "Frozen Conflicts". The World Today. 57 (8/9): 36–38. JSTOR 40476575.
The 'line of contact' between Azeri and Armenian forces is a trench system reminiscent of World War One.
- Kucera, Joshua (8 April 2016). "Nagorno-Karabakh: Trying to Separate Fact from Fiction". EurasiaNet.
- Cristescu, Roxana; Paul, Amanda (15 March 2011). "EU and Nagorno-Karabakh: a 'better than nothing' approach". EUobserver.
- Lynch, Dov (2004). Engaging Eurasia's Separatist States: Unresolved Conflicts and de Facto States. United States Institute of Peace. ISBN 9781929223541.
The line of contact between Azerbaijani and Armenian forces is a well-defined trench system, which experiences only occasional violations of the cease-fire regime.
- "The conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh". The Economist. 15 April 2016.
But despite the ceasefire, low-scale fighting continued along the line of contact.
- "Nagorno-Karabakh violence: Worst clashes in decades kill dozens". BBC News. BBC News. 3 April 2016.
- Simão, Licínia (June 2016). "The Nagorno-Karabakh redux" (PDF). European Union Institute for Security Studies: 2. doi:10.2815/58373. ISSN 2315-1129.
For the first time since the 1990s, Azerbaijani forces managed to regain control of small parts of the territory surrounding Karabakh – the first time the Line of Contact has shifted. Although these changes do not significantly alter the parties’ military predicament on the ground...
- "Ոչ թե շփման գիծ, այլ սահման". a1plus (in Armenian). 9 March 2011.
- Jamalyan, Davit (26 July 2012). "Ոչ թե շփման գիծ, այլ՝ պետական սահման". Hayastani Hanrapetutyun (in Armenian).
- Hakobyan, Tatul (11 January 2018). "Հայաստան-Ադրբեջան սահմաններն ու "սահմանադռները"". CivilNet (in Armenian).