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2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict

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2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Part of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
QarabaghWarMap(2020).svg
(For a more detailed map, see military situation in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict)
Date27 September 2020 (2020-09-27) 每 present
(1 month and 3 days)
Location
Status Ongoing
Territorial
changes
  • Azerbaijan states they have control of 4 cities, 4 settlements, 165 villages and the disputed area's border with Iran[22]
Belligerents

Supported by:
 Turkey[9][b]

Commanders and leaders
Units involved

Azerbaijani Armed Forces
Syrian mercenaries[a][31]

Artsakh Defence Army

Armed Forces of Armenia
Strength
  • Unknown regular military
  • 2,050 Syrian fighters[a][32]
  • Unknown regular military
Casualties and losses

Per Azerbaijan:


Per other sources:

  • Unknown regular military killed
  • 217 Syrian mercenaries killed (SOHR)[41]

See Casualties for details

Per Armenia:

  • 1,166 servicemen killed[42]
  • 17 servicemen captured[43]

See Casualties for details
  • 5,000 killed overall (as of 22 October; per Russia)[44]
  • 92 Azerbaijani[45][46] and 40 Armenian civilians killed[47][48]
  • 392 Azerbaijani and 100 Armenian civilians injured[45][49][47][50]
  • 2 Armenian,[51] 1 Azerbaijani,[52] 2 French[53] and 3 Russian journalists injured[54]
  • 1 Iranian civilian injured from stray fire[55]
  • 90,000 people displaced in Artsakh (per Armenia)[56][57]

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

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 Nagorno-Karabakh War (1988每1994). In response to the clashes, Armenia and Artsakh introduced martial law and total mobilization,[64][65] while Azerbaijan introduced martial law and a curfew, [66] later declaring partial mobilization on 28 September. [67]

Some international analysts believe that fighting likely began with an Azerbaijani offensive,[68][69] and that primary goals of the offensive were to obtain control of districts in southern Nagorno-Karabakh that are less mountainous and thus easier to take than the region's well-fortified interior.[70][71] The war has been marked by the deployment of drones, sensors, long-range heavy artillery[72] and missile strikes, as well as by state propaganda and the use of official social media accounts in online information warfare.[73] Total casualties on both sides may be approaching the low thousands.[74]

Turkey is providing military support to Azerbaijan, although the extent of its support is disputed.[68][75] Turkey's support for Azerbaijan is thought to be 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.[68][76]

Numerous countries and the United Nations strongly condemned the conflict and called on both sides to deescalate tensions and resume meaningful negotiations without delay. [77] A humanitarian ceasefire brokered by Russia, facilitated by the International Committee of the Red Cross, and agreed to by both Armenia and Azerbaijan, formally came into effect on 10 October, [78][79][80] but has been completely disregarded by both sides, halting a planned return of the dead and exchange of wounded and prisoners.[81]

Background

A map of the Azerbaijani SSR in 1928, including the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast.

The disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with its ethnic Armenian majority,[82][83][84][85] is a de jure part of Azerbaijan, but is de facto held by the self-proclaimed Republic of Artsakh, which is supported by Armenia.[86] Ethnic violence began in the late 1980s, and the region descended into a war following the dissolution of the USSR in 1991. On 20 February 1988, the Soviet of the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast passed a resolution requesting transfer of the oblast from the Azerbaijan SSR to the Armenia SSR; Azerbaijan rejected the request several times. Following the revoking of Nagorno-Karabakh's autonomous status, a referendum was held on 10 December 1991 in the region; it was boycotted by the Azerbaijani population which then constituted around 22.8%: 99.8% voted in favor. Both Armenia and Azerbaijan then became fully independent of the Soviet Union in 1991.[87]

The Nagorno-Karabakh War resulted in the displacement of 750,000 Azerbaijanis and 353,000 Armenians from both Azerbaijan and Armenia.[88][89] The war ended with a ceasefire in 1994, with the Republic of Artsakh in control of most of the Nagorno-Karabakh region, as well as occupying the surrounding districts of Agdam, Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Kalbajar, Qubadli, Lachin and Zangilan of Azerbaijan.[90]

For three decades, multiple violations of the ceasefire have occurred, the most serious incidents prior to the current conflict being the 2016 Nagorno-Karabakh clashes.[91] 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.[92][93][94] While it is unclear how the present inhabitants of the area want to administer the territory, surveys indicate that they do not want to be part of Azerbaijan. In August 2019, in an unprecedented declaration in favour of unification, the Armenian Prime Minister, Nikol Pashinyan, visited Nagorno-Karabakh, stating, "Artsakh is Armenia, full stop".[88]

Skirmishes occurred on the border between Armenia and Azerbaijan in July 2020.[91] Thousands of Azerbaijanis demonstrated for war against Armenia in response, with Turkey propagandising in support of Azerbaijan.[95]

On 23 July 2020, Armenia announced the start of a joint air defence system exercise with Russia and an analysis of the July 2020 clashes.[96] A week later, Azerbaijan conducted a series of military exercises that lasted from 29 July to 10 August,[97] and further exercises in early September with the involvement of Turkey.[98] Azerbaijan and Turkey are bound by ethnic, cultural and historic ties, and refer to their relationship as being one between "two states, one nation";[99] Turkey (then the Ottoman Empire) helped Azerbaijan gain its independence from the Russian Empire back in 1918, and become the first country to recognize Azerbaijan's independence from the Soviet Union back in 1991.[100]

Turkey is also the guarantor of the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic since 1921, which is an exclave of Azerbaijan.[101][102] Despite that, others have seen Turkey's support for Azerbaijan as connected to its expansionist foreign policy,[103] linking its intervention and neo-Ottoman policies in Syria, Iraq, and the Eastern Mediterranean.[104] Turkey's high visibility role in the conflict and its support to Azerbaijan has been perceived by Armenians as a continuation of the Armenian Genocide where 1.5 million Armenians were systematically mass murdered and expelled by the Ottoman Empire, especially given Turkey's denial of the Genocide.[105][106][107]

Prior to the resumption of hostilities, allegations emerged that hundreds of Syrian National Army members from the Hamza Division were transferred to Azerbaijan.[108] The government of Azerbaijan has denied involvement by foreign fighters.[109]

Course of the conflict

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 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.[110]

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 ballistic missiles, 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.[110]

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 F邦zuli, 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.[110] 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.[111][112]

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

On 9 October, both sides agreed to a temporary humanitarian ceasefire. After the declared ceasefire, the President of Artsakh admitted Azerbaijan had been able to achieve some success, moving the front deep into Artsakh territory;[113] the Armenian Prime Minister announced that Armenian forces had conducted a "partial retreat".[114] However, the ceasefire quickly broke down and the Azerbaijani advance continued. Within days Azerbaijan announced the capture of dozens of villages on the southern front.[115] Azerbaijan announced the capture of Jabrayil on 9 October and F邦zuli on 19 October. 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.[116] 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. 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.[117] On 26 October, a US-brokered ceasefire came into effect, but fighting resumed within minutes.[118][119] Three days later, the Artsakh authorities stated that the Azerbaijani forces were 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from Shusha.[120]

Timeline of military engagements

The accounts of engagements in this conflict rely primarily on official statements from belligerents. The engagements have been characterized by the use of armoured warfare; drone warfare,[121] especially the use of Turkish-made Bayraktar TB2 and Israeli loitering munition Harop drones;[74][72] heavy artillery; rocket attacks; and trench warfare. 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:[122] Azerbaijan states that Armenia has deployed cluster munitions against civilians,[123] and international third parties have confirmed evidence of Azerbaijan's use of cluster munitions against civilian areas of Nagorno-Karabakh.[124][125] A series of ballistic missile 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.[126] Disinformation and misinformation have accompanied the conflict.[127]

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,[128][129][130] and Iran has reported several unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) downed or crashed within its territory,[131][132][133][134] while Georgia stated that two UAVs had crashed in Kakheti Province.[135]

After the shelling of Khojavend (Martuni),[136] Artsakh authorities began mobilizing civilians.[137] Just before 04:00 (00:00 GMT) on 10 October, 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. Fighting continued: a second ceasefire attempt midnight 17 October was also ignored, followed by a third ceasefire attempt failing on 26 October.[138]

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 in Armenia, which prohibits negative coverage of the situation at the front.[139] Restrictions have been reported on the work of international journalists in Azerbaijan, with no corresponding restrictions reported in Nagorno-Karabakh.[140]

Armenia

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

On 28 September, Armenia banned men aged over 18 listed in the mobilization reserve from leaving the country.[141] 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.[142]

On October 1, 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.[143] Three days later, the NSS stated that it had arrested several foreign citizens on suspicion of spying.[144] Protesting Israeli arms sales to Azerbaijan, Armenia has recalled its ambassador to Israel.[145]

On 8 October, the Armenian President, Armen Sarkissian, dismissed the director of the NSS.[146] 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."[147] On the same day, the Armenian MoD canceled a Novaya Gazeta correspondent's journalistic accreditation, officially for entering Nagorno-Karabakh without accreditation.[148] On 9 October, Armenia tightened its security legislation.[147] On 21 October, the Armenian Cabinet of Ministers temporarily banned the import of Turkish goods, the decision will come into force on December 31.[149] 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.[150]

On 27 October, 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.[151]

Azerbaijan

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

On 27 September, Azerbaijani authorities restricted internet access shortly after the clashes began. According to an official statement, this was done to prevent Armenian provocations.[152] The National Assembly of Azerbaijan declared a curfew in Baku, Ganja, Goygol, Yevlakh and a number of districts from midnight on 28 September,[153][154] under the Interior Minister, Vilayet Eyvazov.[155] Azerbaijan Airlines announced that all airports in Azerbaijan would be closed to regular passenger flights until 30 September.[156] The Military Prosecutor's Offices of Fizuli, Tartar, Karabakh and Ganja began criminal investigations of war and other crimes.[157]

Also on 28 September, the President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, issued a decree authorising a partial mobilization in Azerbaijan.[158] On 8 October, Azerbaijan recalled its ambassador to Greece for consultations, following allegations of Armenians from Greece arriving in Nagorno-Karabakh to fight against Azerbaijan.[159] Three days later, the Azerbaijani State Security Service (SSS) warned against a potential Armenian-backed terrorist attack.[160]

On 17 October, 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.[161] On 24 October, 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.[162]

On 29 October, 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.[163][164]

Casualties, equipment losses and infrastructure damage

Civilian and military casualties have been high,[165] officially in the hundreds and possibly in the low thousands,[74] 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.[166][167] The Ghazanchetsots Cathedral has also been damaged. [168] 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.[169][170]

Casualties

Civilians

According to Armenian sources, on 27 September, two civilians were killed by Azerbaijani shelling in Martuni Province, with[171] approximately a dozen injured in Stepanakert;[172] the Azerbaijani MoD denied the reports.[173] On 10 October, Armenian media reported the killing of two civilians in Hadrut, a mother and his son with a disability, according to Armenia the killing would have been carried out by Azerbaijani infiltrators.[174][175] By 17 October, Armenian authorities reported 40 Armenian civilians were killed in the conflict.[48]

According to Azerbaijani sources, the Armenian military has targeted densely populated areas containing civilian structures.[176] As of 21 October, 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, 91 people had been killed, while 392 people had been hospitalized.[45]

As of 23 October, the Armenian authorities has stated that te conflict had displaced more than half of Nagorno-Karabakh's population or approximately 90,000 people.[56]

Seven journalists have been injured.[112][52] On 1 October, two French journalists from Le Monde covering the clashes in Khojavend were injured by Azerbaijani shellfire.[177] A week later, three Russian journalists reporting in Shusha were seriously injured by an Azerbaijani attack.[178][179] On 19 October, an Azerbaijani AzTV journalist received shrapnel wounds from Armenian shellfire in Aghdam District.[52]

Military

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

Since the beginning of the clashes the government of Azerbaijan has not revealed the number of its military casualties.[180] On 23 October, 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.[181] This was the first military casualty officially confirmed by the government. However, Armenian and Artsakh authorities have claimed 6,914 Azerbaijani soldiers and Syrian mercenaries were killed.[182][183] On 6 October, the Azerbaijani MoD denied an Armenian MoD reports of 200 deaths[184][185] after the alleged defeat of an Azerbaijani unit.[186]

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights documented the death of at least 188 Syrian fighters or mercenaries fighting for Azerbaijan.[32] On 26 October, the Observatory reported the death of a commander of the Syrian National Army's Hamza Division.[187]

As of 28 October, Artsakh authorities reported the deaths of 1,166 servicemen,[42] while the Azerbaijani authorities reported more than 2,300 Armenian servicemen were killed or wounded as of 30 September.[188] The average age of Armenian casualties is estimated to be approximately 20 years old.[165] On 27 October, Artsakh authorities stated that its defense minister Jalal Harutyunyan was wounded in action.[189] Although, unofficial Azerbaijani military sources alleged that he was killed and released footage apparently showing the assassination from a drone camera.[190]

Infrastructure damage

Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha. The Armenian Apostolic cathedral, a listed cultural and historical monument, was stuck twice during the conflict.[191][192][193]

Sheykh Babi Yagub Mausoleum in Bab? of Fuzuli District[194] and Ghazanchetsots Cathedral in Shusha has been damaged. On 19 October, 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.[195] 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, 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.[49]

Equipment losses

By 7 October, 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.[188][196][197][198] destroyed. As of 16 October, the Azerbaijani President stated that the Armenian losses were at US$2 billion.[199] In turn an Azerbaijani helicopter was stated to have been damaged, but its crew had apparently returned it to Azerbaijani-controlled territory without casualties.[200] Later it was reported that on 12 October Azerbaijan had destroyed one Tochka-U missile launcher. On 14 October 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.[201] On the same day Azerbaijan announced the destruction of three R-17 Elbrus tactical ballistic missile launchers that had been targeting Ganja and Mingachevir.[202]

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.[203] 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.[204] They released footage showing the destruction or damage of five Azerbaijani tanks.[205] 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.[206]

Analysis

Analysts believe that the 2020 conflict was likely initiated by Azerbaijan, reporting that the country intends to take control of de jure Azerbaijani territory. Complex geopolitics involving Russia and Turkey have come into play. While Azerbaijan's intended goals were likely strategically limited, concerns exist that direct confrontations between Armenia and Azerbaijan could result in an all-out, devastating multi-front war that could spread beyond the region; a strategic pipeline, Baku每Tbilisi每Ceyhan pipeline (BTC), with major Western investment transports Azerbaijan's Caspian Sea crude oil to Turkey and then on to Western markets.[207][208][209]

Azerbaijan's intended goals

Most of Azerbaijan's successful advances have concentrated in the areas that are located along the Aras River, which has a less mountainous terrain in contrast to the region's northern and central territories.

In a 27 September interview, regional expert Thomas de Waal stated that it was highly unlikely that hostilities were initiated by the Armenian side as they were already in possession of the territory and were incentivized to normalize the status quo, while "for various reasons, Azerbaijan calculates that military action will win it something".[210] One analyst in the journal Foreign Policy 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 percent. 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.[70] 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.[69] 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.[71] Similarly, political scientist Arkady Dubnov from the Carnegie Moscow Center[211][212] believes that Azerbaijan launched the offensive to improve Azerbaijan's position in a suitable season for hostilities in the terrain.[213]

Status of respective militaries

Azerbaijan has consistently spent more on its military budget than Armenia, permitting it to purchase advanced weapons systems, mainly from Israel, Russia and Turkey. Azerbaijan has superior tanks, armored personnel carriers, and infantry fighting vehicles. It has amassed a large fleet of Turkish and Israeli-supplied state-of-the-art drones. The Armenian military and Artsakh forces mainly rely on older Soviet-era weapon systems. Armenia has its own indigenously-produced drones, but they are generally not as developed as the drones Azerbaijan possesses. Azerbaijan has a quantitative advantage in artillery systems, particularly self-propelled guns and long-range multiple rocket launchers. Armenia has a minor advantage in tactical ballistic missiles. Azerbaijan has a larger fleet of manned combat aircraft than Armenia, though both sides have so far largely refrained from using them.[121][112][110] If both countries go to war, it would nonetheless be waged with Russian and Turkish-supplied 21st century heavy weapons, potentially causing more death and destruction than in the 1990s.[208]

Turkey and Russia

Russia has maintained good relations with Azerbaijan and has sold weapons to both parties; however, Russia possesses a military base in Armenia as part of a military alliance with Armenia, and thus is 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 have opposing interests.[208] Turkey, driven by President Erdogan's ambitions to improve his popularity and divert attention from his country's economic issues,[208] appears to be using 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.[214][76] Russia has historically pursued a policy of maintaining neutrality in the conflict, and Armenia has yet to request aid.[68] According to the director of the Russia studies program at the CNA, Russia is unlikely to intervene militarily unless Armenia incurs drastic losses.[68] However, the 14 October Azerbaijani strike within Armenian territory has threatened to bring the mutual defense pact to the fore.[215]

War crimes

Armenian

Armenia has bombed several Azerbaijani cities outside of the conflict zone using ballistic missiles, including Azerbaijan's second-biggest city, Ganja. There have been 4 separate ballistic missile attacks on the city since the start of the conflict, killing 26 civilians and injuring 125.[216][217][218][219] The attacks were deplored by the European Union[220] and UN Secretary-General Ant車nio Guterres,[221] while Azerbaijani authorities and President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, accused the Armenian Armed Forces of committing war crimes through the firing of ballistic missiles at civilian settlements.[222][223] Several other cities have also been bombed during the conflict, most commonly, Tartar, Beylagan and Barda.[224][225] There have overall been over 80 civilian deaths in Azerbaijan, outside of the conflict zone as a result of the bombings.[226]

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 during the war.[227][228] One day later Artsakh Ombudsman released a statement claiming that the boy in the video was 16 and was not directly engaged in military actions and was functioning together with his father.[229]

On 28 October, the Armenian Armed Forces hit Azerbaijani town of Barda hit with missiles, resulting in the deaths of 21 civilians, including one Red Cross volunteer and injuring over 70, making it the deadliest attack throughout the conflict.[230][231][232][233] Amnesty International verified the use of cluster bombs and Smerch rockets by Armenia. Marie Struthers, Amnesty International*s Regional Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia, stated that the "firing of cluster munitions into civilian areas is cruel and reckless, and causes untold death, injury and misery."[234] Azerbaijani Ombudsman called the attack an "terrorist act against civilians".[235] According to Azerbaijan, Armenia used cluster munitions and Smerch rockets to hit residential areas in the town.[230][236] The use of cluster munitions was also confirmed by New York Times.[237] Armenia denied any responsibility for the attack,[238] while the unrecognised Republic of Artsakh admitted responsibility, but said they were targeting military facilities.[239]

Azerbaijani

File:InShot 20201020 202248937.webmPlay media
Video of Azerbaijan's use of cluster munitions on Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh

On 4 October, the Armenian government stated Azerbaijan had deployed cluster munitions against residential targets in Stepanakert; an Amnesty International investigator condemned this.[240] 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."[241] 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".[242]

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 每 particularly in populated areas 每 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.[243]

On 15 October, a video surfaced of two captured Armenians being executed by Azerbaijani soldiers;[244] Artsakh authorities identified one as a civilian.[245] 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 and later executed.[244] The BBC also investigated the videos and confirmed that the videos were from Hadrut and were filmed some time between October 9每15. 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.[246]

Drone warfare

Azerbaijan has made highly effective use of drones, including the Bayraktar TB2, and sensors, in a "new, more affordable type of air power",[121] indicating the future of warfare. Azerbaijani drones have been used to carry out precise strikes and as reconnaissance aircraft, relaying the coordinates of targets they spot to Azerbaijani artillery. It had previously been assumed that drones would not play a major role in conflicts between nations due to their vulnerability to anti-aircraft fire. While this might be true for major powers with air defences, it appears to be less true for smaller powers.[72] The use of drones in this conflict has showcased their potential in enabling small countries that lack large fleets of manned aircraft to conduct effective air campaigns.[247] Close air support can be provided by specialized suicide drones, such as IAI Harop, rendering tanks vulnerable and suggesting changes are required to armored warfare doctrine.[248] Another suicide drone, Turkish made STM Kargu, is also reportedly used by Azerbaijan, though it hasn't been verified by the Azerbaijani authorities yet.[249][36]

Propaganda war

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,[73] including in Russian media. The ability of drones to record their kills has enabled a highly effective Azerbaijani propaganda campaign.[72][121] 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.[112]

National sentiments

While Armenians and Azerbaijanis trained 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.[250] During and after the Nagorno-Karabakh War anti-Azerbaijani sentiment grew in Armenia, leading to harassment of Azerbaijanis there.[251][252][253][254] The incitement of hatred against Armenians and promotion of hate speech is one of the main challenges of creating the necessary conditions to enhance the peace process, as well as to establish an atmosphere of confidence between the people of the conflicting sides.[255][256][257]

Petroleum industry in Azerbaijan

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

Concerns have been addressed about the security of the petroleum industry in Azerbaijan.[258][259] Azerbaijan claimed that Armenia targeted or tried to target the Baku每Tbilisi每Ceyhan pipeline, which accounts for around 80% of country's oil exports, and Baku每Novorossiysk pipeline.[260][261][262] Armenia rejected the accusations.[263]

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,[264] and Greek hackers targeting Azerbaijani governmental websites.[265] 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 have spiked, with many from authentic users, but many inauthentic accounts have also been detected.[266][267]

Official statements

The Armenian ambassador to the United States Varuzhan Nersesyan has invited US intervention in the conflict, as has his Azerbaijani counterpart Elin Suleymanov.[268]

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 in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

On 27 September, 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.[269] 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每Azerbaijani alliance".[270]

The same day, the Armenian Ambassador to Russia, Vardan Toganyan, did not rule out that Armenia may turn to Russia for fresh arms supplies.[271] On 29 September, Prime Minister Pashinyan stated that Azerbaijan, with military support from Turkey, was expanding the theater into Armenian territory.[272] On 30 September, Pashinyan stated that Armenia was considering officially recognizing the Republic of Artsakh as an independent territory.[273] 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.[274]

On 1 October, the President of Artsakh, Arayik Harutyunyan, stated that Armenians needed to prepare for a long-term war.[275] 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.[276]

On 6 October, the Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated that the Armenian side was prepared to make concessions, if Azerbaijan was ready to reciprocate.[277]

On 9 October, Armen Sarkissian demanded that international powers, particularly, the US, Russia and NATO, do more to stop Turkey's involvement in the war and warned that Ankara is creating ※another Syria in the Caucasus§.[278]

On 21 October, 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".[279]

Azerbaijan

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

The day before the conflict, on 26 September, 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.[280]

On 27 September, Azerbaijan accused Armenian forces of a "willful and deliberate" attack on the front line[281] and of targeting civilian areas, alleging a "gross violation of international humanitarian law".[282] On 28 September, it stated that Armenia's actions had destroyed the peace negotiations through an act of aggression,[283] alleged that a war had been launched against Azerbaijan, mobilized the people of Azerbaijan, and declared a Great Patriotic War.[284] 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.[285] The Azerbaijani authorities issued a statement accusing the Armenian military of purposefully targeting civilians, including women and children.[286] The Azerbaijani Minister of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) denied any reports of Turkish involvement, while admitting military-technical cooperation with Turkey and other countries.[287]

On 29 September, 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.[288] The Azerbaijani MoFA demanded that Armenia stop shelling civilians and called on international organizations to ensure Armenia followed international law.[289] The Azerbaijani Ambassador to Russia denied reports of mercenaries brought in from Turkey by Azerbaijan,[290] 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.[291]

On 3 October, Aliyev stated that Armenia needed to leave Azerbaijan's territory (in Nagorno-Karabakh) for the war to stop.[292] 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.[293]

Two days later, Ilham Aliyev's aide Hikmat Hajiyev claimed that Armenia had deployed cluster munitions against cities,[294] however this has not been verified by other sources. On 7 October, 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.[295] 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.[296]

On 10 October, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov stated that the truce signed on the same day was temporary.[297] Despite this, Aliyev stated that both parties were now attempting to determine a political resolution to the conflict.[79] The next day, Azerbaijani authorities stated that Armenia was conducting an act of genocide, emphasizing the Khojaly massacre.[298]

On 21 October, President of Azerbaijan, Ilham 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.[299] He then added that Azerbaijan did not agree for a referendum in Nagorno-Karabakh,[300] but didn't exclude the cultural autonomy of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh,[299] and reaffirmed that the Azerbaijan considers Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh as their citizens, promising security and rights.[301]

On 26 October, President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, stated that the Azerbaijani government will inspect and record the destruction by Armenian forces in Azerbaijani-populated territories surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh during the Nagorno-Karabakh War.[302]

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.[303]

Turkey and Syrian National Army

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.[304] 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[31] alleged that a private Turkish security company was recruiting Syrians to fight in Artsakh;[305] Azerbaijan[306] 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.[307][308][309][310] A report in The Times partially confirmed Turkish involvement in sending 200 Syrian fighters to support Azerbaijani forces;[311] a Turkish-based source reported that these were acting independently of the SNA.[4] 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.[312] Syrian President Bashar al-Assad reiterated Macron's concerns.[313] On 3 October, 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.[314] The National Security Service of Armenia presented intercepts, allegedly between the Turkish and Azerbaijani military, and between the Azerbaijani military and mercenaries.[315] 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.[316] As of 18 October, Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) reported that 2000 mercenaries were recruited in Syria by Turkey and transferred to fight in Nagorno Karabakh.[317]

On 2 October, Russian investigative newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported 700每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.[318] The Georgian State Security Service stated news about the passage of Syrian fighters from Turkey through Georgia to Azerbaijan was disinformation.[319] On 3 October, 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.[303][320] 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.[321] On 5 October, 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.[322] On 6 October, 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).[323][324] On 7 October, Asia Times reported that mercenaries allegedly signed up to go to Azerbaijan for US$1,500 a month.[325] Kommersant states that during the first week of October up to 1300 Syrian militants and 150 Libyan mercenaries deployed to Azerbaijan.[326]

On 16 October, 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.[326] On 17 October, the Armenian National Security Service stated that Azerbaijan is smuggling in a significant amount of ammunition, mercenaries and terrorists from Afghanistan and Pakistan.[327]

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.[328] On 1 October 2020, the SOHR confirmed the deaths of 28 Syrian fighters and nearly 60 injured or missing.[329] On 20 October, the SOHR stated that at least 188 pro-Turkey Syrian rebel fighters, who were among more than 2,050 combatants, had been killed in clashes.[32] An unidentified SNA leader, the Jesr Press and a The Guardian article confirmed the deaths of dozens of Syrian fighters.[330][331][332] On 14 October, The Washington Post reported the deaths in Karabakh of more than 50 Syrian mercenaries, most of them hired by Turkey.[333][334] Prime Minister Pashinyan in an interview given to French newspaper Le Figaro wrote that 30 percent of those Azerbaijanis killed in hostilities were foreign mercenaries.[335][336]

Canada has suspended the export of its drone technology to Turkey over concerns that it is using the technology in the conflict.[337]

Armenian diaspora volunteers

Armenian volunteers in Yerevan heading to Artsakh to fight in the war.

On 28 September, the Azerbaijani MoD alleged that among the Armenian casualties were mercenaries of Armenian origin from Syria and a variety of Middle East countries.[338] On the same day, the Turkish Minister of Defence stated that Armenia must "send back the mercenaries and terrorists it brought from abroad".[339] Two days later, Azerbaijani authorities asked the international community to "adequately respond to the use of terrorist forces by Armenia".[340] On 30 September, the SOHR also stated that Armenian-born Syrian fighters were being transported to Armenia to fight against Azerbaijan.[341] 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.[342] A Novaya Gazeta report, citing Lebanese Ministry of Internal Affairs intelligence, stated around 500 ethnic Armenian Lebanese had travelled to fight in Nagorno-Karabakh.[343]

Kurdish militias

On 30 September, Turkish sources alleged that approximately 300 PKK militants were transported to Nagorno-Karabakh via Iran. However, these claims were not substantiated by evidence.[344][345] The Armenian President, Armen Sarkissian, has denied the Turkish allegations of PKK fighters being present in Armenia, describing them as "absolute nonsense".[346] On 6 October, 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.[347] This was denied by Armenia.[348]

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.[349]

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.[17] On 29 September, the Iranian Foreign Ministry denied these reports.[20] The next day, Azerbaijani government-affiliated media outlets shared footage reportedly showing the materiel being transported.[18][19][350] Azerbaijani MP Sabir Rustamkhanli alleged that Iran was engaged in transporting weapons from various countries to Armenia.[351] Subsequently, in the Azerbaijani Parliament, Rustamkhanli suggested opening an Azerbaijani embassy in Israel.[352] 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.[21] 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.[353]

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.[354] 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.[355] Georgia responded by stating that its airspace was closed to all military and military cargo flights but not for civil and humanitarian ones.[356]

Serbia

Azerbaijan has stated that Armenia is employing Serbian weapons, alleged to have been transported via Georgia.[357] In response, the President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vu?i?, 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.[358]

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".[94]

Supranational and regional organizations

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)[359] on 1 October 1 and 5 October, and Secretary-General of the United Nations Ant車nio 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.[77] On 18 October, the UN Secretary-General again called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to respect the humanitarian truce and condemned attacks on civilians.[360] 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.[361][362] Stoltenberg expressed NATO's neutrality and said that both "Armenia and Azerbaijan have been valued NATO partners for more than 25 years".[363] NATO and the European Union (EU) have refused to publicly criticize Turkey's involvement in the conflict.[361][364]

Secretary General of the Organization of American States Luis Almagro demanded that Azerbaijan cease hostilities,[365] whereas the Turkic Council demanded an unconditional withdrawal of Armenia from they described as occupied territories of Azerbaijan.[366] The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation initially condemned Armenian "provocations"[367] and subsequently expressed concern regarding Armenia's violations of the 10 October 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.[368]

On October 19, at the request of Russia, the United States, and France, the United Nations Security Council held closed consultations on the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.[369] 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.[370] 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 [371] 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.[372]

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, along with the other two co-chairs of the Group, France and the US, it called for immediate cessation of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh, and asked both sides to continue negotiations without preconditions.[373] On 6 October 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.[374][375] Both Russia and Armenia are part of a mutual defence pact. However, on October 8 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.[376] He also affirmed Russia's good relations with both Armenia and Azerbaijan. On 9 October, Lavrov mediated a ceasefire after 10 hours of talks between Armenian and Azerbaijani Foreign Ministers in Moscow. The ceasefire was quickly broken.[377] On 22 October, 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.[378][379]

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.[380] Presidential candidate and former Vice President Joe Biden demanded that Turkey "stay out" of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.[381] 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,[382][383] sent through Pentagon*s "building partner assistance program."[383][384] Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, called the influence of third party actors like Turkey "troubling".[385] 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."[386]

A number of US congressmen were more vocal in their criticism of the Azerbaijani side. On 22 October, 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."[387] At least one congressman, Brad Sherman, called for the imposition of sanctions against Azerbaijan through the Magnitsky Act.[388]

On 23 October, president Trump stated that a "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".[389] On 25 October, US 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".[390] Later that day it was announced that both sides had agreed with a humanitarian ceasefire from the next day morning.[391]

Turkey

Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev and the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevl邦t ?avu?o?lu on 6 October.

The governments of Turkey and Pakistan expressed support for Azerbaijan. Turkey blamed Armenia for violating the ceasefire[392][393][394] and Turkish President Erdogan initially urged Azerbaijan to persist with its campaign until it had retaken all territory lost in the Nagorno-Karabakh War.[362] Erdogan criticized the failed activities of the OSCE Minsk Group in the last 25 years as "stalling tactics" preventing a diplomatic solution.[395] Further, Turkey issued a statement on 1 October dismissing the joint demands from France, Russia, and the United States calling for a ceasefire.[396][397] Northern Cyprus, a self-declared state recognized only by Turkey, expressed support for Azerbaijan.[398]

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.[399]

Others

Syria's Assad blamed Turkey for the conflict,[313] while Greek foreign minister Nikos Dendias, on a visit to Yerevan on 16 October 2020, earned that it was critical to end foreign interference, warning that Turkey's intervention was raising serious international concerns.[400]

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.[401] 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".[402] Israel declined to comment on the possibility it halting support for Azerbaijan.[403]

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.[404][405] Ukraine stated that it supports Azerbaijan's territorial integrity, would not provide military assistance to either state,[406][407][408] and wanted to avoid an ethnic conflict between its own Armenian and Azerbaijani communities.[409] 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.[410][411] Albania stated that it supports territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and called both sides to solve conflict with peaceful negotiations.[412]

Representatives of countries, including Argentina,[413] Canada,[414] Chile,[415] China,[416] Croatia,[417] Estonia,[418][419] France,[420][421][422] Georgia,[423] Germany,[392] Greece,[424] India,[425][426] Indonesia,[427] Iran,[428][429][430] Kazakhstan,[431] Latvia,[432][433] Lithuania,[434][433] Moldova,[435] Poland,[436] Romania,[437][438] Russia,[421][422][439] Saudi Arabia,[440] the United Kingdom,[441] the United States,[421][422][442] Uruguay,[443] and the Holy See,[392] 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.[444] Bosniak member of the Presidency of Bosnia and Herzegovina ?efik D?aferovi? and the leader of the Party of Democratic Action, Bakir Izetbegovi?, voiced support for Azerbaijan, condemning Armenia and comparing the situation with the 1992每1995 Bosnian War.[445][446] The member of NA of France, J谷r?me Lambert expressed Armenia's persistence in maintaining the conflict, for which he became a target of aggression.[447] Cyprus condemned Azerbaijan for breaching the ceasefire and for any escalating actions, calling for a return to peaceful negotiations.[448]

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.[449][450][451][452][453][454]

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.[455][456] Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have criticized Azerbaijan[455][457][458] and Armenia[459] for the use of cluster munitions. Genocide Watch has described the situation as a 'genocide emergency' for Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, citing Azerbaijan*s current targeting of civilians in Nagorno-Karabakh, denial of past genocide against Armenians, and its official use of hate speech as factors leading to their assessment[460][461][462]

Minorities abroad

Armenians

Armenian diaspora all around the world held numerous protests 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.[208] On 1 October, the South Ossetian Armenian community condemned Azerbaijan and Turkey, urging recognition of Artsakh's independence.[463] The next day, Armenians in Samtskhe每Javakheti, in Georgia, expressed concern and their intention to send aid.[464] Subsequently, Georgia closed its border with Armenia, indicating frustration within Georgia's Armenian minority.[465] Croatia's Armenian diaspora's leader asked for support against what she described as a genocide against the Armenians.[466] On 5 October, Armenian Americans protested outside the Los Angeles (LA) CNN building, calling for more accurate coverage.[467] 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.[468][469] LA's mayor expressed support for Armenia and the city's Armenian community by lighting up City Hall with the Armenian flag's colours.[470][471] 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".[472][473] 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.[474] A major rally was held in Aleppo, Syria by Armenians and Syrians condemning Azerbaijan and Turkey.[475] Armenian communities have also protested globally, notably in Argentina,[476] Australia,[477] Canada,[478] and Uruguay.[479]

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.[480][481] On October 28, an online musical event featuring Armenian and foreign artists will be held to raise awareness and funds for Artsakh.[482]

SpaceX Protests

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.[483] In 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.[484][485]

Azerbaijanis

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.[486][410] 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.[487] The local security forces intervened, detaining at least 38 people.[488] The same day, around 50 Azerbaijani representatives from the 5,000-strong community in Moldova expressed their support for Azerbaijan in the capital Chi?in?u.[489] On 3 October, Azerbaijanis in Georgia indicated a readiness to fight for Azerbaijan and the desire that Azerbaijan retake Nagorno-Karabakh.[490] 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.[491] The next day, Azerbaijani Americans held a rally in Chicago, condemning the missile attacks on Ganja.[492] The following day, British Azerbaijanis commemorated those killed during the attacks in front of the Azerbaijani embassy in London.[493] while Georgian Azerbaijanis held a rally in front the Parliament Building in Tbilisi.[494] 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.[495] 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.[496] Iranian security forces intervened, detaining over 200 people.[497] On 23 October, American Azerbaijanis gathered in a pro-Trump rally and voiced their support for Azerbaijan,[498] while in San Francisco and Minnesota, Azerbaijanis rallied and condemned Armenia for the ballistic missile attacks on cities.[499][500][501] On 26 October, Azerbaijanis organized rallies in Bielefeld, Germany, and Copenhagen, Denmark.[502][503]

Amid tensions among protesters over Nagorno-Karabakh, dozens of Turks and Azeris marched through the streets of Lyon, France on on 28th October 2020 and chanted pro-Erdogan slogans while threatening Armenians. Some of their chants included "Allah Akbar", ※Where are you Armenians? Where are you? We are here# sons of bitches§, and "fuck Armenia, we will fuck you."[504][505]

Sports

Due to the conflict, UEFA announced that the 2020每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.[506]

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.[507][508] Those in favor of Armenia include Mel Gibson, Ronda Rousey, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Peter Gabriel, Sean Penn, Michael B. Jordan, Kylie Jenner, Tinashe and Cher.[509][510][511][512][513][514][515][516] Kim Kardashian and other Kardashians have posted video messages in support of Armenia; donating $1 million to the Armenia Fund.[517][518] Rapper Kanye West posted a tweet stated he would pray for Armenia.[519] Arsenal footballer Mesut ?zil and singer Sami Yusuf tweeted,[520][521] while former Barcelona player Ronaldinho released a video message in support of Azerbaijan.[522] Several Turkish celebrities, including Sinan Ak??l, Hadise, Berg邦zar Korel, Acun Il?cal?, Kenan ?mirzal?o?lu also shared their condolences and support to Azerbaijan.[523][524][525][526]

See also

Notes

  1. ^ [1][2][3][4][5] Denied by Azerbaijan,[6][7] Turkey[8] and some SNA officials.[4]
  2. ^ Turkey and Azerbaijan deny direct involvement of Turkey.[10]
  3. ^ Alleged by Azerbaijan,[16] and reports that Russia supplied arms to Armenia via Iran[17][18][19] It has been denied by Iran.[20][21]
  4. ^

References

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