After the Armenia-Azerbaijan war of 2020 over the Nagorno-Karabakh region, the two sides reached an armistice. However, the peace turned out to be short-lived. Three soldiers were killed as a result of a ceasefire violation observed at the beginning of August. Two of the deceased soldiers belonged to Armenia and one to the Azeri side. Many factors are behind the ephemeral truce.
The two involved parties trade blame. This time, the bone of contention is the situation in the Lachin corridor. It is a thin strip of 5 km (3.1 mi) that joins Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. The corridor has been in control of Russian peacekeeping troops since the end of the 2020 war. Armenian sources accused the Azeri troops of violating the agreement by killing two of its troops. The Azerbaijan defence ministry hit back with a similar allegation. It said that its forces retaliated when they found that the Karabakh separatist troops had targeted certain parts of the Lachin corridor. The ministry demanded the withdrawal of all Armenian troops from the area and warned of “crushing” measures otherwise
In response, Yerevan came back with the claim that Baku had tried to attack the land which is under the peacekeeping troops. It sees this as a direct violation of the ceasefire agreement.
Armenia and Azerbaijan fought a deadly war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region in 2020. The war lasted for around 6 weeks and killed more than 6500 people. There is no winner in a war, but Azerbaijan gained control of the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. A ceasefire between the two adversaries had been planned and agreed upon in the aftermath of the war. Russia intermediated to end the war by deploying 2000 peacekeeping troops. Since then, both sides frequently hold each other accountable for breaching the agreement.
On 3rd August, Moscow announced its support for Armenia. It stood with the Armenian stance that it was actually Azerbaijan that initiated the violation of the ceasefire.
The domestic political situation in both countries also helps in making sense of the recurring clashes. There is a notion in Baku that it is doing more than it should to maintain peace with Armenia. The Armenian government also wants to keep the peace but it faces domestic pressure from opponent leaders. They accuse the PM of disloyalty to his own country by signing the peace deal in the first place. The opposition is trying to inculcate a rhetoric of irredentism in the masses.
While looking at the situation, the steps taken by Azerbaijan seem rather aggressive. Armenia is not in a fit position to fight back. It had already lost most of the territory after the war.
The reinvigorated clash between the two adversaries has forced the international community to raise its voice to maintain peace. Many of the world’s big players have called for the perseverance of peace. The European Union, which is brokering the peace talks between Azeri and Armenian leaders, has expressed its concerns over the latest situation. Similarly, the United States has also said that it is “deeply concerned” regarding peace in the region.
Muhammad Abdul Basit