Olesya Vartanyan

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A vehicle of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine departs from Donetsk, 1 March 2022. Sergey Averin / Sputnik via AFP

Russia’s 24 February invasion of Ukraine has sent shock waves through the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), a body that has been instrumental in containing conflicts that erupted after the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Russia’s actions in Ukraine are a glaring violation of the OSCE’s commitment to respecting sovereignty, territorial integrity and human rights, memorialised in its founding principles. They have poisoned the atmosphere at the organisation’s seat in Vienna – which hosts the 57 participating states, including Ukraine and Russia as well as all European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) members – and compromised its ability to take decisions on matters big and small.…  Seguir leyendo »

A watchtower near Nora's home. Barbed wires indicate the line of separation between Georgian-controlled territory and South Ossetia. September 2021, CRISIS GROUP/ Jorge Gutierrez Lucena

Since the Russian attack on Ukraine began on 24 February, popular support for the besieged country has been everywhere to be seen in the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Ukrainian flags hang on balconies and windows in distant suburbs, as well as by the doors of cafés and shops on downtown avenues. Every evening, the city centre becomes a sea of yellow and blue as thousands gather to show solidarity with Ukraine.

For many Georgians, the war recalls the Russian invasion of their own country in 2008. Following that five-day conflict, Russia recognised two Georgian breakaway regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia – and stationed its troops there.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Risky Role for Russian Peacekeepers in Nagorno-Karabakh

When Russian peacekeepers arrived in Nagorno-Karabakh as part of a ceasefire deal between Azerbaijan and Armenian, they found it empty, blanketed in a thick November fog. After 44 days of brutal war, most [people] had fled, not believing the fighting was over. A year later, the region’s main city of Stepanakert is no longer a ghost town. Most of its residents have returned, followed by thousands of Armenians displaced from territories won over by Azerbaijani forces in the conflict. The scars of war are everywhere — damaged buildings, craters caused by missiles, and photos of the dead and missing hung for passers-by — but elders gossip on city stoops while children are playing in the streets once again.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenian leader Nikol Pashinyan campaigning for his political alliance “My Step” in his hometown Ijevan, about 20 kilometres from frontline trenches along the border with Azerbaijan. CRISISGROUP/Olesya Vartanyan

One of the windows in Sonya Matinyan’s home is filled in with bricks. The glass of the other is splintered by a rifle bullet. The roof has taken a few missile hits and leaking water has stained the ceilings in the interior. But, unusually, the 57-year-old Armenian is staying home this winter.

That’s because things are changing for the better in Berkaber, on Armenia’s north-eastern border with Azerbaijan. No gunfire has sounded here in the region of Tavush for almost two months, a welcome change from clashes that in the past two winters drove inhabitants into fortified cellars or to distant relatives’ homes.…  Seguir leyendo »

Map of South Caucasus

When opposition Member of Parliament Nikol Pashinyan led a knot of marchers through northern Armenia in April to protest the return to power of long-serving leader Serzh Sargsyan, no one guessed his campaign would prompt the country to take a leap into the unknown.

One of a mere handful of opposition parliamentarians, Pashinyan has never been a popular leader in this country of three million people. His criticism of the government resonated with those parts of society that oppose Sargsyan and reflected real problems. But when he set out on his march, the former journalist and publicist was a marginal figure.…  Seguir leyendo »

For almost three months now, there has been an astonishing lull along the Karabakh frontline. Instead of grenade launchers, guided missiles, drones, and guns, the sound of relatively less harmful small arms has been heard. For the first time since the clash of April 2016, both sides have put their weapons aside to take a breather before the long-awaited meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders.

There have been no negotiations at the presidential level for more than a year. All prior requests to resume meetings by international mediators yielded no results. Instead of conversing at the negotiation table, the leaders occasionally donned military uniforms, and set out with binoculars to examine each other’s military positions.…  Seguir leyendo »