Tens of years of bubbling conflict and disputes between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh area came to a tipping point in late September, where the area saw its worst fighting since the 1990s. Occasional fighting was common, as the Nagorno-Karabakh is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan despite it being home to ethnic Armenians.
Conflicts escalated from local disputes to intervening regional powers – the difference this time being Turkey’s support for Azerbaijan, which is traditionally of Russian association. Additionally, the advancement in weapon technologies and the use from both sides of advanced drones and long-range artillery further developed the conflict.
A cease-fire agreement was reached on November 9th. Russia proposed the deal; and the next day, Russian peacekeepers began deploying to the Nagorno-Karabakh region. Azerbaijan has insisted it has a right to invite Turkish peacekeepers as well, raising the possibility that the two countries’ soldiers would operate in proximity along a tense front line.
Cities in Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Armenia have been hit by long-range weaponry fired by combatants on both sides, including the repeatedly bombarded capital of Nagorno-Karabakh, Stepanakert. One situation involves Azerbaijan accusing Armenia of firing rockets into their second-largest city, Ganja, alluding to them having the intent to destroy civilian infrastructure.
In early November, the conflict was in Azerbaijan’s favor, when they captured the Nagorno-Karabakh region’s second-largest city and cut a key access road needed for military supplies, nearly starving out the Armenian military.
What sets apart this cease-fire agreement from the three previous attempted cease-fire treaties, negotiated by Russia, France, and the United States, is Russia’s effort to send in peacekeeping troops. The cease-fire called for Armenia’s army to withdraw from Nagorno-Karabakh, which delivered on what Azerbaijan had been battling for years to achieve.
Armenia has agreed to allow the United Nations to oversee the peaceful return of individuals who initially had been displaced. While the future is unknown, the conflict has left Armenia increasingly dependent on Russia for protection and sparked dissent amongst the Armenian population regarding the agreement.