The government of the Nagorno-Karabakh breakaway region said it will formally dissolve by January, as over half its majority ethnic Armenian population fled to Armenia after Azerbaijan’s lightening military offensive last week.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan has accused Azerbaijan of “ethnic cleansing” in the territory, which is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan but had been controlled by ethnic Armenians for three decades.
The crisis comes as Russia, long a mediator between the former Soviet Union states of Armenia and Azerbaijan, is tied up with its invasion of Ukraine. Moscow no longer has the diplomatic stamina or clout to intervene in global conflicts, analysts told The New York Times. “Russia has one big goal — it wants to win in Ukraine and is ready to sacrifice a lot to achieve this, including allies,” independent Russian journalist Aleksandr Atasuntsev told the paper.• 1
The New York Times, As Armenia and Azerbaijan Clash, Russia Is a Distracted Spectator
The dissolution of Nagorno-Karabakh doesn’t necessarily signal an end to tensions in the area. Baku, working alongside Ankara, is hoping to establish the Zangezur corridor, a highway which would connect Azerbaijan and Turkey and create a trade route through Europe, Central Asia, and China. But Armenia opposes the route, which it sees as infringing on its sovereignty. Moving forward could escalate regional tensions, and potentially bring other states into the long-running conflict:
“Should Azerbaijan hope to capitalize on the momentum created by its Karabakh win by accelerating the forcible creation of this so-called corridor, war in the Caucasus could break out again soon,” political scientist Ian Bremmer recently wrote.• 2
Both sides may soon meet to hammer out the details of a peace agreement. Ultimately, though, the end of Nagorno-Karabakh is a win for Baku. “This can be considered one of the most significant achievements for the people and Azerbaijan since gaining independence,” Azerbaijani political scientist Elkhan Sahinoglu told Al Jazeera. He believes that the dissolution of the region will help pave the way for peace talks. “Karabakh had been a political, economic and military burden for Armenia, and now they have relieved themselves of this burden,” Sahinoglu said.• 3