Cáucaso

A Russian peacekeeper guards the Lachin Corridor, which has been blocked by Azerbaijani protesters since December 12, 2022 -- cutting off ethnic Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh from the outside world. Tofik Babayev/AFP/Getty Images

After Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and its devastating humanitarian fallout, it would be a leap to cast Moscow in the role of a peacemaker. But in one corner of the world that’s exactly what has happened.

In the wake of a war between Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2020, Russia was left to broker a ceasefire and keep the two sides in check. The United States and the European Union, which had once played a balancing role in the South Caucasus, effectively pulled back from active diplomacy and let Russia act as the sole mediator. Moscow deployed peacekeepers on the ground to calm and monitor the situation.…  Seguir leyendo »

El puente de Judafereín, que separa Azerbaiyán de Irán. ADP

Mientras buena parte del mundo se sentaba a celebrar el día de Navidad, miles de personas se manifestaban en la plaza del Renacimiento de Stepanekert, capital de Artsaj (Nagorno Karabaj) para exigir el fin del bloqueo planificado por parte de Azerbaiyán al que se ven sometidos sus habitantes desde el 12 de diciembre.

Ahí viven 120.000 personas de etnia armenia que ven amenaza su supervivencia por la crisis humanitaria. El corredor de Lachín/Berdzor, única carretera que conecta Stepanekert con la República de Armenia está cortado. El transporte de civiles, el traslado de enfermos a hospitales, los víveres, las medicinas y la economía de Artsaj están bloqueadas.…  Seguir leyendo »

Georgia's former president Mikheil Saakashvili appears via video link from the hospital during a hearing in Tbilisi city court, Georgia, on Dec. 22. (Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

As the world remains rightly focused on Vladimir Putin’s barbaric war in Ukraine, the Russian leader continues to advance his destabilizing, antidemocratic agenda in other places in the world. Among them is the small but strategically vital nation of Georgia, wedged between Russia and Turkey on the coast of the Black Sea.

Right now, Georgia’s former president Mikheil Saakashvili is languishing in detention there — by some accounts inching closer to death. The Biden administration and its allies can’t let that happen. It’s time for a global campaign to free Saakashvili now — precisely because of his past services to the cause of democracy in his homeland.…  Seguir leyendo »

An Azerbaijani soldier stands on the road to Shusha, a town in Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by Azerbaijani forces. On the other side of the fence, a Russian checkpoint looks over the parallel road used by Armenians. CRISIS GROUP

An Azerbaijani soldier stands on the road to Shusha, a town in Nagorno-Karabakh controlled by Azerbaijani forces. On the other side of the fence, a Russian checkpoint looks over the parallel road used by Armenians. CRISIS GROUP

If the war in Ukraine has reverberated across crises worldwide, its impact has been especially acute in the South Caucasus. Two years after their latest war over Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan appear headed toward another confrontation. Russia’s travails in Ukraine have upset calculations in the region.

A new war would be shorter but no less dramatic than the six-week conflict in 2020. That war, which killed more than 7,000 soldiers, saw Azerbaijani forces rout Armenians from parts of the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave and nearby areas, all of which had been held by Armenian forces since the early 1990s.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijani protesters gather on the Lachin corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh on Dec. 13. Resul Rehimov/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A woman in a crowd of protesters clutched a lifeless dove in her hand, its head flopping back and forth as she waved her arm in the air. The bird had apparently been squeezed to death while she spoke into a megaphone, delivering an impassioned speech honoring Azerbaijan’s victory over Armenia in the 2020 war for Nagorno-Karabakh.

With dark humor, the strangled dove came to embody the broken peace process in the South Caucasus. The bird and its human handler were part of a show of political force by Azerbaijan in the Lachin corridor, the sole road connecting Armenians in the enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh to the outside world.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Kremlin has struggled to contain the fallout of its invasion of Ukraine. It did not imagine that its war would inspire sustained unity among Western countries, nor that the Ukrainian army would resist so well, nor that it would need to partly mobilize the Russian population, a drastic measure with potentially disastrous domestic consequences. A war intended to restore Russian strength has instead left the country weaker.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sees Ukraine as part of Russia’s rightful sphere of influence, but because of his invasion, that sphere of influence is contracting. Russia is losing ground in regions where it has long held sway.…  Seguir leyendo »

A view of the settlement of Sotk, which is said was hit by Azeri shelling during recent border clashes with Azerbaijan, on September 14, 2022. (Photo by Karen MINASYAN / AFP)

On the night of September 12-13, violent clashes erupted along the eastern and southeastern border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The hostilities, which had been brewing since a ceasefire agreement signed under Russian the auspices two years before, continued until September 15. Over these 48 hours, Azerbaijani forces reportedly used heavy artillery and drones along a 200 km stretch of the border. According to the Armenian prime minister, the shelling deliberately targeted the civilian population and vital civilian infrastructures in 36 residential areas and communities.

The direct cause that re-sparked hostilities remains unclear, with Armenia and Azerbaijan blaming each other. The Armenian prime minister referred to the Azerbaijani shelling as an unprovoked and unjustified military aggression.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, left, with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Thursday in Prague. (Armenian Government/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock)

It’s nice to report something positive for a change. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan met in Prague on Thursday — possibly opening up a path to ending one of the modern world’s most intractable conflicts.

We aren’t quite there yet, though.

Though neighbors, Turkey and Armenian have been separated for nearly a century by the Cold War and the weight of the past — the mass killing of Armenians in Anatolia in 1915 that historians view as the first genocide of the 20th century. A Western-brokered attempt at reconciliation more than a decade ago failed, and the border between the two nations has remained sealed for decades.…  Seguir leyendo »

Depuis début septembre, le régime azerbaïdjanais a relancé ses attaques contre l’Arménie. Alors que le démembrement territorial de ce pays souverain a déjà été entamé par les premières offensives voici deux ans, c’est la menace d’une épuration ethnique, peut-être même d’un nouveau génocide, qui plane aujourd’hui au-dessus des Arméniens de l’Artsakh.

Relation millénaire. Les liens culturels et diplomatiques entre l’Arménie et la France sont aussi forts qu’anciens. Notre pays a accueilli de nombreux Arméniens, dans les moments dramatiques qui frappèrent ce peuple. Français exemplaires dans tous les domaines, nos compatriotes d’origine arménienne ont su le rendre à notre pays tout en restant attachés à leurs racines, Cette diaspora ne fait que renforcer cette relation si singulière entre nous.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenian army volunteer Armen Tadevosyan, 56, walks around the border town of Jermuk on Sept. 15. (Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images)

As Russia moves deeper into the Ukraine quagmire, the Kremlin is losing its military and diplomatic ability to mediate the long-running conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan — and the Biden administration is moving to fill that void.

National security adviser Jake Sullivan this week hosted what he called “direct and constructive talks” with Armen Grigoryan and Hikmet Hajiyev, his counterparts from Armenia and Azerbaijan, respectively. The meeting followed on-the-ground mediation efforts by Philip Reeker, the State Department’s senior adviser for the Caucasus region.

The White House meeting produced a “road map” for further peace negotiations between the two countries, according to Lilit Makunts, Armenia’s ambassador to Washington.…  Seguir leyendo »

Azerbaijani president Ilham Aliyev visiting the Lachin city after Azerbaijan's army took full control of the city in August 2022. Photo by Presidency of Azerbaijan / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The recent large-scale cross-border attacks inside Armenia by Azerbaijan, with reports estimating at least 286 people killed from both sides and hundreds more wounded, highlights the wider picture of a collapsing Russian-led security order in Eurasia.

Coming on 12 September, the attacks coincided with Ukraine’s successful counter-offensive in Kharkiv and fresh fighting between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. And Armenian appeals to Russia and its allies in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) for support met with muted responses, resulting only in the mobilization of a fact-finding mission.

Several key actors in Eurasia now see Azerbaijan as a critical – or at least important – partner in solving new problems flowing from the war in Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan ahead of their meeting at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on April 19. VYACHESLAV PROKOFYEV/POOL/AFP via Getty Images

Russia’s war in Ukraine has forced many countries to triage their national interests. U.S. President Joe Biden’s trip to the Middle East last month prompted hue and cry from some quarters in Washington for its hypocrisy. Despite his campaign promise to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” state, Biden fist-bumped de facto Saudi leader Mohammed bin Salman in an effort to get more oil flowing into global markets. For many disillusioned with U.S. foreign policy, this seemed to illustrate that the United States had sacrificed its proclaimed values to pursue realpolitik.

The United States is hardly the only democracy to engage in these kinds of recalibrations.…  Seguir leyendo »

In the shadow of Russia’s war in Ukraine, a series of clashes and a subsequent period of quiet have raised both fears about renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and hopes that diplomacy might still bring the parties closer to peace. In March, Azerbaijani forces seized territory around Farukh, an ethnic Armenian-populated village that has been patrolled by Russian peacekeepers since a ceasefire ended the 2020 war that upended an almost three-decade status quo in the region. The Armenian government, along with Nagorno-Karabakh’s de facto authorities, worried that the move might herald a broader Azerbaijani offensive, taking advantage of Moscow’s focus on Ukraine.…  Seguir leyendo »

Mourning the war dead in Yerevan, Armenia, December 2020. Artem Mikryukov / Reuters

As the ripples of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine pulse outward, they have left one region especially volatile: the South Caucasus. The Ukrainian conflict has paradoxically raised the likelihood of both further fighting and a negotiated peace in this area between the Caspian and Black Seas. The region was the site of a brutal war in 2020 between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh—an Armenian-populated enclave within Azerbaijan—and adjacent regions. The 44-day war left around 7,000 people dead and saw Azerbaijan inflict a crushing defeat on Armenia, reversing territorial losses it had suffered in fighting during the 1990s. The war also left unresolved questions, lingering disputes, and simmering tensions.…  Seguir leyendo »

Police detain demonstrators during a protest against the government of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, on May 5. (Vahram Baghdasaryan/Photolure/AP)

In the shadow of the war in Ukraine, an unlikely peace process is taking shape to normalize relations between Armenia and its historic adversaries, Azerbaijan and Turkey. What is surprising about this diplomacy is that it appears to have the support of both the United States and Russia.

The negotiations are controversial in Armenia, which was battered by Azerbaijan in a bloody 2020 war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh and still bears deep emotional scars from the 1915 genocide under the Ottoman Empire. Protesters in Yerevan have denounced Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan’s opening to Baku and Ankara and have called for his resignation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenian soldiers patrol the mountains near the frontier with Azerbaijan in the Gegharkunik valley. Photo by Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine, Azerbaijan has increasingly tested the will and capacity of the Russian peacekeeping mission deployed to the residual territory remaining under Armenian control at the end of the 2020 Karabakh war.

In early March, Azerbaijani forces were observed circling close to Armenian villages with loudspeakers urging the inhabitants to evacuate, and reports of increased ceasefire violations soon followed. On 8 March, a crucial pipeline supplying gas to the Karabakh Armenian population was cut off on Azerbaijani-held territory, leaving residents without heat for two weeks. Although the pipeline was repaired, it was reportedly cut off again, then restored.

Azerbaijani forces then advanced into the area which is ostensibly under Russian peacekeeper control, forcing the evacuation of one Armenian village, taking strategic heights overseeing others, and reportedly using drone strikes to kill three local Armenian servicemen and wound a further 15.…  Seguir leyendo »

En menos de siete días tres Estados europeos han presentado su solicitud de adhesión a la Unión Europea. Entre el lunes 28 de febrero y el viernes 4 de marzo, Bruselas recibió sendas peticiones por parte de Ucrania, de Georgia y de Moldavia. Tres exrepúblicas soviéticas que, según la concepción geopolítica putiniana, habrían puesto en peligro la seguridad de Rusia con su acercamiento paulatino a Bruselas y, lo que es aún peor, a la órbita de la OTAN.

Desde Kiev los motivos para solicitar su adhesión al club de los 27 son más que evidentes: la invasión rusa y el consiguiente conflicto bélico.…  Seguir leyendo »

Huge rally in support of Ukraine in front of the parliament in Tbilisi, Georgia. Photo by Daro Sulakauri/Getty Images.

Moscow’s disinformation tactics aimed to sow chaos, confusion, and panic both before and during the invasion of Ukraine – trying to paint a picture of Ukraine as the aggressor, conceal the civilian cost of the conflict, and even the dates of military operations.

Back in early January, US intelligence warned the Kremlin was planning a ‘false-flag operation’ as a precursor to the invasion, and Ukraine also suffered cyberattacks against government websites and banks, some of which have been attributed to the GRU – Russia’s military intelligence agency.

Ukraine is not alone in this, as Georgia has also been attempting to cope with a long-term information warfare storm from the Kremlin.…  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 »

Armenian soldiers at an observation post by the Sotk gold mine on the border with Azerbaijan. Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images.

The 2020 Karabakh war was widely framed as breaking the preceding status quo of 26 years, but assessments of its transformative potential overlook the fact the war resulted in outcomes satisfying only a minority of stakeholders – Turkey and, to a considerable but ambiguous extent, Azerbaijan. Two false narratives have circulated widely which obscure this absence of consensus – that the war ‘ended’ the Karabakh conflict, and that Russia ‘won’ the war.

Two significant post-war dynamics contradict the notion that the Karabakh conflict is now resolved. The first is the widening of the spaces and issues in conflict. Azerbaijan’s restoration of sovereignty over territories it lost in 1990s surfaced the long-submerged issue of border demarcation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.…  Seguir leyendo »