Mitch Joel WARNING... LONG RANT! It takes a lot for me to both get angry and publish about it. Canada’s…
Europe & EU Caucasus 2023
Is Caucasus Asia or Europe?
One widely accepted scheme draws the dividing line along the crest of the Greater Caucasus range, putting the portion of the region north of the line in Europe and the portion south of it in Asia
Regional Division and Geopolitical Situation in the Area of Caucasus
There is almost no period of history in which there were no wars in Caucasus. This is a strategically important area because it covers a narrow land between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. It represents one of the two roads that help people reach the Middle East from the mainland of Europe. During its history, the Caucasus was part of the Russian Empire, the Crimean Khanate, the Ottoman Empire, Persia, or it consisted of a large number of independent states. During the whole of the XIX century on the territory of the Caucasus, the battles were fought in order to obtain the exit to the Caspian Sea. Only in Soviet times there were no conflicts. Some historians claim that this is the result of the correct national policy of the USSR, while others, contrary to them, are convinced that the peace occurred due to a firm socialist regime, which led to an extremely tense situation right after the collapse of the USSR. Also, the Caucasus is one of the few regions of Russia where Islam is the dominant religion. Many times, this fact served as a trigger for conflicts, including the armed conflicts. In this paper, the geopolitical situation of the given territories, mainly after the disintegration of the USSR, is presented with a special reference to the North Caucasus and the South Caucasus (Transcaucasia). (Sept. 2018)
Nagorno-Karabakh votes to secede from Soviet Azerbaijan – archive, 1988
13 July 1988: The predominantly Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan declares itself an autonomous part of the neighbouring republic of Armenia.
With one abstention, the local council of deputies said they were taking the region out of Azerbaijan and uniting with Armenia as an autonomous area, to be called in future Artsakh. The move put into effect unilaterally a petition which the council had made in February, but on which no action has yet been taken by Mr Gorbachev and his colleagues.
The dispute has pitted two Soviet republics against each other for the first time, and also highlighted the contradiction in the Soviet constitution between the article which calls for every people’s self-determination and another which forbids boundary changes unless both sides agree.
The region’s declaration of independence is, on the face of it, purely formal, since troops occupy the region’s capital, Stepanakert, and it cannot be enforced. But it is an expression of the Armenian majority’s frustration and the rising tension there.
6 October 2020
The Graphic Truth: How do Azerbaijan and Armenia stack up?
(GZERO media) Heavy fighting between Azeris and Armenians over the contested Nagorno-Karabakh region, which broke out in late September after years of mostly low-level clashes, has intensified in recent days. Nagorno-Karabakh, which is internationally recognized as Azerbaijani territory but controlled by ethnic Armenian separatists, has long been a regional flashpoint: a years-long war between the two sides in the 1990s led to at least 30,000 deaths and displaced more than 1 million people. So how do the two nation states locked in this enduring conflict stack up against the other?
Armenia on verge of signing peace deal with Azerbaijan, PM says
The truce would come after weeks of warnings the two countries could be on the brink of a new conflict.
(Politico Eu) Armenia could agree terms on a comprehensive peace agreement with neighboring Azerbaijan, ending a bitter regional rivalry after three decades of hostilities, the South Caucasus country’s prime minister said Thursday.
Speaking at a conference in Georgia, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that his government could sign “an agreement on peace and the establishment of relationships” with its neighbor “in the coming months.”
At the same time, he unveiled a “Crossroads of Peace” project designed to reopen road and railway links that have been blocked for decades amid the simmering conflict with Azerbaijan and its close ally, Turkey.
The announcement comes just weeks after Azerbaijan launched a lightning offensive to take control of the region of Nagorno-Karabakh, which has been fought over by the two sides since the fall of the USSR. An estimated 100,000 ethnic Armenians living in the mountainous territory were forced to flee their homes as their unrecognized breakaway state collapsed after 30 years of de facto autonomy.
On Tuesday, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov said the decisive military action means there are now “real chances for the conclusion of a peace treaty between Azerbaijan and Armenia within a short period of time.”
Joly announces more funding for Armenian refugees, stops short of threatening sanctions on Azerbaijan
Recently opened embassy is Canada’s first in southern Caucasus
(CBC) Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly announced another $1 million in humanitarian funding Wednesday to help displaced ethnic Armenian refugees who recently fled a military operation launched by Azerbaijan — but she stopped well short of threatening to sanction Azeri government officials over the attack.
“I’ve said everything is on the table. That being said, we expect that Armenia’s territorial integrity [will] be respected and for us, this is definitely something that we’re watching,” Joly told journalists during a visit to Armenia’s capital Yerevan to open Canada’s new embassy there. She was attending a press conference with her Armenian counterpart, Ararat Mirzoyan.
The $1 million has been earmarked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, on top of $2.5 million Canada announced previously for refugee relief through the International Committee of the Red Cross.
More than 100,000 ethnic Armenians are believed to have fled Azerbaijan’s shelling campaign in the long-disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in September. Called an “anti terror” operation by Azerbaijan, the campaign also followed nine months of a blockade imposed by Baku that left the region short of food and medical supplies.
Another WAR Brewing! After Ukraine & Israel, South Caucasus Braces For A Full-Scale Conflict – Report
(Eurasian Times) Amidst the protracted Ukraine-Russia conflict, a recent Hamas terrorist attack on Israel has heightened the possibility of an Israeli ground offensive on Gaza. Concurrently, there are growing concerns about a third conflict brewing in the South Caucasus, with the US reportedly indicating that Azerbaijan may soon invade Armenia.
Blinken warned lawmakers Azerbaijan may invade Armenia in coming weeks
He also said State isn’t planning to renew a long-standing waiver that allows the U.S. to provide military assistance to Baku.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned a small group of lawmakers last week that his department is tracking the possibility that Azerbaijan could soon invade Armenia, according to two people familiar with the conversation.
The call indicates the depth of concern in the administration about Azerbaijan’s operations against a breakaway region in the west of the country and the possibility of the conflict spreading.
In an Oct. 3 phone call, lawmakers pressed Blinken on possible measures against [Azerbaijiani President Ilham] Aliyev in response to his country’s invasion of the Nagorno-Karabakh region in September…
Blinken responded that the State Department was looking at avenues to hold Azerbaijan accountable and isn’t planning to renew a long-standing waiver that allows the U.S. to provide military assistance to Baku. He added that State saw a possibility that Azerbaijan would invade southern Armenia in the coming weeks.
Still, Blinken expressed confidence about ongoing diplomatic talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan
Armenia wants a UN court to impose measures aimed at protecting rights of Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians
(AP) — Armenia urged the United Nations top court on Thursday to impose new interim orders on Azerbaijan to prevent what the leader of Armenia’s legal team called the “ethnic cleansing” of the Nagorno-Karabakh region from becoming irreversible.
Armenia asked judges at the International Court of Justice for 10 “provisional measures” aimed at protecting the rights of ethnic Armenians from the Nagorno-Karabakh region that Azerbaijan reclaimed last month following a swift military operation.
European Parliament condemns Azerbaijan and EU over Nagorno-Karabakh attack
Lawmakers say gas and oil imports into EU should be blocked if Baku moves against Armenia.
(Politico Eu) The European Parliament on Thursday adopted a resolution condemning Azerbaijan and the EU’s handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis, two weeks after Baku launched a lightning strike into the enclave, forcing 100,000 people to flee.
The resolution, which mentions “a gross violation of human rights and international law” and “unjustified military attack,” was adopted by an overwhelming majority of all groups: 491 MEPs voted in favor, with only nine against and 36 abstentions.
Lawmakers called for the EU and its member countries to urgently reassess the bloc’s ties with Azerbaijan and pushed to suspend “all imports of oil and gas from Azerbaijan to the EU in the event of military aggression against Armenian territorial integrity or … attacks against Armenia’s constitutional order and democratic institutions.”
Third war over Karabakh crystallizes a new balance of power in the South Caucasus
(Middle East Institute) The final military episode of the Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict over Karabakh seems to have ended. The third Karabakh war lasted only 24 hours, concluding on Sept. 20, with the separatist Armenian Karabakh military forces capitulating. Unlike in the previous two wars — of 1988-1994 and September-November 2020, respectively — this time the Republic of Armenia stayed out of the fighting. As Baku claimed victory, a large exodus quickly ensued. Over the next week, 100,000 ethnic Armenians from Karabakh, roughly 80% of the heretofore disputed territory’s total population, fled to Armenia. The social, political, demographic, and economic implications of this refugee wave will be felt across the region in the years to come.
So what next for the South Caucasus? Two of the neighboring powers that have dominated the region for centuries — Iran and Russia — notably avoided getting involved in the latest deadly exchanges in Karabakh. On paper, both back Armenia, with Moscow being a treaty ally; and Russia once more negotiated the ceasefire. But Yerevan is apparently keen to rid itself of its long-term patron: Illustratively, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan declared his country’s security guarantees “ineffective.” On the other hand, Turkey, as Azerbaijan’s most important ally, seems to have stepped up as the region’s most influential power. The West — both the United States and the European Union — have played a limited role.
UN mission arrives in Nagorno-Karabakh as ethnic Armenian exodus nears end
(Reuters) – A United Nations mission arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh on Sunday, Azerbaijani media reported, as a mass exodus of ethnic Armenians from the region began drawing to a close following a Azerbaijani military offensive last month.
The mission, led by a senior U.N. aid official, is the global body’s first access to the region in about 30 years.
Armenia has asked the World Court to order Azerbaijan to withdraw all its troops from civilian establishments in Nagorno-Karabakh and give the United Nations access.
‘Azerbaijan is hungry for land’: Armenians fear country will seek to grab more territory
After Baku’s success in Nagorno-Karabakh, it could attempt to encroach farther, locals believe
(The Guardian) After losing a war in 2020, Armenian prime minister Nikol Pashinyan signed a ceasefire agreement with Azerbaijan brokered by Russia that grants a land corridor through Armenia to Nakhchivan, an Azerbaijani exclave, and on to Turkey, Azerbaijan’s closest ally. The corridor, which was to run along a railway through southern Armenia, was to be policed by the FSB, Russia’s main border guard service.
But the Azerbaijani parliament has also held recent hearings on western Azerbaijan, an irredentist term that the country’s president, Ilham Aliyev, has also started to use in public and which in particular refers to the Syunik province, where Tegh is located.
Armenia: Cast Adrift in a Tough Neighborhood
While the Caucasus nation might want to reduce its reliance on Russia for a more reliable ally, Western nations have offered moral support but little else.
(NYT) On the day Azerbaijan’s military sliced through the defenses of an ethnic Armenian redoubt last week, American soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division had just finished a training mission in nearby Armenia, a longtime ally of Russia that has been trying to reduce its near-total dependence on Moscow for its security.
The Americans unfurled a banner made up of the flags of the United States and Armenia, posed for photographs — and then left the country. At the same time, nearly 2,000 Russian “peacekeepers” were dealing with the mayhem unleashed by their earlier failure to keep the peace in the contested area, Nagorno-Karabakh, recognized internationally as being part of Azerbaijan.
The timing of the U.S. soldiers’ rapid exit at the end of their training work — carried out under the intimidating name Eagle Partner but involving only 85 soldiers — had been scheduled for months.
‘Where are France, America and Charles Michel?’ Armenians rage as 50,000 flee Nagorno-Karabakh
Brussels put itself front and center in an ill-fated campaign to be a regional peacemaker — but now doesn’t dare upset gas-rich Azerbaijan.
(Politico Eu) Ethnic Armenians are venting their frustration at the EU’s failed attempts to mediate in the growing humanitarian crisis over the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh — as more than half of the territory’s residents now appear to have fled, fearing ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijan’s army.
Baku’s lightning advance into Nagorno-Karabakh last week — and the subsequent refugee exodus — is a stinging diplomatic failure for the EU, which had staked significant political capital in trying to style itself as a peacemaker. European Council President Charles Michel became a prominent personality in the region, and EU observers were deployed to observe the Armenia-Azerbaijan frontier. Ultimately, however, the EU now looks unlikely to turn to sanctions against Azerbaijan as it is unwilling to rock relations with a nation that it calls a “crucial” partner on natural gas supply.
Erdogan meets Azerbaijan’s Aliyev as thousands flee Nagorno-Karabakh
Turkish president visits Azerbaijan’s autonomous Nakhchivan exclave, says swift Nagorno-Karabakh victory brings pride.
Erdogan and Aliyev signed a deal for a gas pipeline and the Turkish leader said “I’m very pleased to be with all of you as we connect Nakhchivan with the Turkish world.”
Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh victory highlights limits of Russia’s power</strong>
Dan Sabbagh Defence and security editor
With Moscow’s resources ‘clearly finite’ the Kremlin has had to adapt to Baku’s rising power
(The Guardian) Azerbaijan’s military victory in the extended 35-year conflict over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh is a notable geopolitical setback for Russia, traditionally Armenia’s partner and ally.
Moscow’s post-Soviet strategy has often been to stoke conflicts to weaken its near neighbours, creating crises in Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia. But on this occasion the Kremlin has had to adapt to Azerbaijan’s rising power – showing a willingness to sacrifice an old ally.
Ethnic Armenians flee Nagorno-Karabakh as Russia fails to uphold peace deal
Hundreds of Armenians waiting for gasoline to flee the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh were injured in an explosion at a fuel depot on Monday, according to local officials, as senior U.S. officials visited Armenia and pledged humanitarian support to deal with a flood of refugees that began Sunday ahead of an imminent takeover by Azerbaijan.
Nagorno-Karabakh exodus grows as Armenia warns of ‘ethnic cleansing’
The first convoys of injured people have left the besieged region, with displaced civilians following behind
Why have there been clashes over control of Nagorno-Karabakh?
(CNN) … The flare-up – which killed hundreds of people, according to local authorities – alarmed the international community and raised questions over Russia’s ability to maintain its long-term role as power broker in the region.
A new Caucasus conflict tests the limits of US power
(Brookings) The Biden administration doesn’t want to see the ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh forced to flee, but it also doesn’t want to fully alienate Azerbaijan, which is strategically located between Turkey and Iran. It cannot make promises to Armenia that it cannot keep.
The best — and the only — solution is diplomacy: forcing Azeris and Armenians to come back to the negotiating table. The Biden administration should involve the United Nations and work with Europe to provide a framework to secure the livelihood and rights of ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. If the Armenians of the enclave gradually flee to Armenia, Western support and humanitarian aid will be critical.
More importantly, the United States and Europe should prevent a new war between Azerbaijan and Armenia. That requires a heavy lift to get the two sides to return to peace negotiations and delineate their borders. (The two signed a cease-fire in 2020 but never a comprehensive peace deal.)
Turkey, counterintuitive as it sounds, might be helpful in such a deal — and the United States should test that. Ankara has long wanted to see the restoration of regional trade routes and claims it is ready to normalize relations with Armenia. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has long fancied himself as an international mediator and, if he sees a global role here, he might be constructive in convincing Azeris. A Turkish offer to open its long-sealed border with Armenia would also lessen the blow for the government in Yerevan.
Armenia protests follow Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire
(BBC) There were clashes between police and demonstrators in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on Wednesday, as thousands protested the government’s handling of the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis.
Azerbaijan said it had restored its sovereignty over the territory, after a deadly 24-hour military offensive.
It has led to Armenia being accused of failing to protect ethnic Armenians in the contested territory.
Protesters are calling for Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to quit.
They say he made too many concessions in the fight for Nagorno-Karabakh, and did little to help the ethnic Armenians who live there.
Azerbaijan and ethnic Armenian forces reach Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire deal
Armenian forces surrender all their ammunition to the Azeri army as the warring sides confirm a ceasefire mediated by Russian peacekeepers.
Nagorno-Karabakh catastrophe fires anger against Armenia’s leader
Despite Moscow’s inaction, pro-Russian politicians are seizing on Azerbaijan’s offensive to steer Armenia away from the West.
(Politico Eu) Chants went up in support of the ethnic Armenian region of Nagorno-Karabakh, where Azerbaijani troops launched a lightning offensive the day before. Others in the crowd — a few thousand strong — called for Armenia’s embattled prime minister, liberal reformer Nikol Pashinyan, to resign over the defeat and bloodshed.
The supreme fear is that many of the 100,000 Armenians in the enclave will be driven out in ethnic cleansing by Azerbaijani forces.
Nagorno-Karabakh war flares again
(GZERO) In recent months, Karabakh has suffered shortages of food and medical supplies under an Azeri blockade, but both sides had appeared to be talking about peace.
The Armenian government on Tuesday appeared unwilling to send its forces directly into the conflict, and called on Russia to stop Azerbaijan’s assault.
The attack comes as Yerevan is increasingly at odds with its traditional security partner Russia. Armenia’s PM last week said Putin’s invasion of Ukraine meant that Yerevan’s long-time reliance on the Kremlin for defense and peacekeeping was “a mistake.” As if to drive the point home, Armenian forces then held military drills with the US. On Tuesday, former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Armenia had brought the Azeri assault on itself by “siding with NATO.”
Nicholas Kristof: Another Ethnic Cleansing Could Be Underway — and We’re Not Paying Attention
The current crisis began late last year, when Azerbaijanis began blockading the only road into Nagorno-Karabakh, the Lachin corridor to Armenia, on which the territory depends for food and medicine.
The International Court of Justice ordered Azerbaijan to remove the blockade. Instead, the Azerbaijani government established a checkpoint on the road and began blocking even humanitarian aid carried by the International Committee of the Red Cross.
A third of deaths in Nagorno-Karabakh are attributed by the local authorities to malnutrition, the BBC said. I have no way of verifying these reports, but every indication is that the situation is dire — and getting worse by the day.
Armenia, Azerbaijan & the Nagorno-Karabakh crisis that needs attention
(GZERO) …the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. It is one of many impacts from the Russian war in Ukraine. Not new. There’s been a war for decades over this little territory, an autonomous Armenian populated territory inside Azerbaijan, former two Soviet republics.
Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. It is small, it is mountainous, it is all of 120,000 people. It is fiercely contested. When the Soviet Union collapsed, in part would support from Russia, Armenia had military superiority. They were able to not only have control over it, but also buffer regions bordering it. They didn’t negotiate very seriously with the Azeris, in part because they had the upper hand. That is now changing. Azerbaijan has been building up their own military capabilities, in part from a lot of energy wealth from the Caspian, in part with support from Turkey, which is very aligned with Azerbaijan.
Meanwhile, Russia, which is Armenia’s major supporter, really their only kind of strong geopolitical supporter with troops in Armenia and peacekeepers on the ground, very distracted given the invasion of Ukraine and under a lot of pressure. That has meant reduced troop presence and them acting largely on the sidelines. Azerbaijan, sensing opportunity, struck, took back occupied territory around Nagorno-Karabakh, and now have a functional lock on any ability to get in or out of the territory.
The EU’s new role in mediating between Armenia and Azerbaijan
The EU has sent civilian observers to Armenia. For the mission to succeed it needs a flexible mandate, diplomatic support and resources
(IPS) The first unarmed civilian observers of a ground-breaking European Union mission have just arrived in Armenia to keep tabs on worsening tensions with Azerbaijan. They will patrol the border to ensure Brussels knows of any flareups immediately, giving it a better chance of intervening fast enough to keep the peace. The mission must tread carefully in an area that also hosts Russian military and border guards. To help it succeed, the EU must provide the mission full funding and as much freedom of manoeuvre as possible.
In theory, this deployment should significantly shorten the time it takes the EU or member states to react if any new fighting flares up at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. The neighbours fought their last war in 2020 over Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated region that declared independence from Azerbaijan, and since then their long state border has seen several clashes, each bloodier than the last.
10 November 2020
Nagorno-Karabakh peace deal brokered by Moscow prompts anger in Armenia
Crowds claim agreement with Azerbaijan to withdraw is a betrayal after fierce fighting over disputed enclave
(The Guardian) Russian peacekeepers have deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh after Moscow brokered a peace deal that sparked celebrations in Azerbaijan and protests in Armenia, where demonstrators briefly occupied government buildings.
The truce, announced late on Monday night, calls for the deployment of nearly 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to the disputed enclave, where Azerbaijan will receive significant territorial concessions from an Armenian-backed local government.