Middle East Policy Council (2 September 2023)
M. Hakan YAVUZ*
Armenian nationalists rejecting Azerbaijani sovereignty and seeking a Moscow-led protectorate put humanitarian aid at risk and will not acquire a single inch of territory.
The Karabakh conflict in the North Caucasus has emerged as the second-most-significant conflict involving Russia. Historically, the region of Karabakh has been populated by Armenians, while the surrounding areas have been inhabited by Azerbaijani Turks. Throughout the existence of Azerbaijan, Karabakh has been an integral part of the country. During the Soviet era, it functioned as an autonomous region within the Azerbaijani Soviet Socialist Republic. However, as the Soviet Union began to disintegrate, the Armenian minority pursued reunification with Armenia, leading to the ethnic cleansing of Karabakh’s Azerbaijani residents in 1993—facilitated by Armenia and Russia. This resulted in Armenian forces’ prevailing and occupying approximately 20 percent of Azerbaijani territory. Russia consistently aligned itself with Armenia. Despite negotiations spanning three decades, a lasting solution remains elusive.
Following the initial Karabakh War and the peace talks conducted between 1994 and 2018 (prior to Nikol Pashinyan’s becoming Armenian prime minister in May of that year), Azerbaijan proposed granting special autonomy to Karabakh Armenians, contingent upon the recognition of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. However, Armenians rejected these offers and instead threatened to seize more Azerbaijani land. Such rhetoric, including hints at advancing toward the Azerbaijani capital of Baku, contributed to the conditions that sparked the Second Karabakh War in 2020.
To read the rest of the article, please click: https://mepc.org/commentary/opinion-miatsum-and-bewildering-russian-role-karabakh
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