Cáucaso

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 »

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 »

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 »

Helping Stabilise the New Status Quo in Nagorno-Karabakh

While the armed conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh has subsided, Armenia and Azerbaijan are still far from a political settlement. In this excerpt from the Watch List 2021 – Autumn Update, Crisis Group urges the EU and its member states to press for negotiations between Baku and Yerevan, aid to the affected regions and cooperate with Moscow, which has peacekeepers on the ground and the most leverage over the conflict parties.

Almost a year after a Russian-brokered ceasefire ended the 2020 war in Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia remain at loggerheads. With Armenian forces withdrawn, Russian peacekeepers now patrol the part of Nagorno-Karabakh that remains outside Azerbaijani control, but they are operating without a detailed mandate and risk being stretched too thin.…  Seguir leyendo »

Georgian police officers escort former president Mikheil Saakashvili after he was arrested in Rustavi, Georgia, on Oct. 1. (AP)

Ever since Georgia gained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the country has aspired to full membership in European and transatlantic institutions. Saturday’s local elections come at a critical moment: Democratic institutions are under serious stress. And if that weren’t enough, now another crisis looms. On Friday, the authorities announced that they had arrested ex-president Mikheil Saakashvili.

Saakashvili excites intense emotions among his compatriots. He came to power in the Rose Revolution of 2003, which swept away a corrupt and stagnant predecessor regime. He and a group of dedicated reformers proceeded to accelerate the modernization of the country, making it the envy of advocates for change around the world.…  Seguir leyendo »

Supporters of Nikol Pashinyan in the Republic Square in Yerevan watch him deliver a speech to mark victory for his Civil Contract party in the 2021 Armenia election. Photo by Celestino Arce/NurPhoto via Getty Images.

Armenia’s snap election was extraordinary in many ways. A record number of parties and blocs contested the ballot – including all of Armenia’s former presidents dating back to 1991. After a bitter campaign, the scale of Nikol Pashinyan’s Civil Contract party’s win came as a surprise, with Civil Contract securing an outright 54 per cent of the vote – a majority obviating the need for tense coalition negotiations or a second round of voting.

Although the presence of old faces seemed to preserve the polarity between new and old elites, which was key to 2018’s Velvet Revolution that brought Pashinyan to power, the grand coalition that made the revolution possible had begun to fray.…  Seguir leyendo »

Sign to the Armenian village of Sotk on the border with Kalbajar District, now in control of Azerbaijan via the 2020 ceasefire agreement between Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia. Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images.

Despite the elapse of six months since the ceasefire which brought the second Karabakh war to a close, there has been little respite in the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict.

Relations have remained sharply polarized by issues such as the continued imprisonment of up to 200 Armenians with reports of torture and death in custody, post-war casualties among Azerbaijanis due to mines in areas transferred to Azerbaijani control in 2020, and the destruction or alteration of Armenian cultural heritage in those areas.

Now a new crisis is unfolding with reports of a number of territorial encroachments by Azerbaijani troops across the international Armenia-Azerbaijani border.…  Seguir leyendo »

Armenians, flanked by police officers, take part in a protest to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Yerevan, Armenia, on March 6. (Karen Minasyan/AFP/Getty Images)

Despite a nudge from a senior State Department official, Azerbaijan has so far refused to return more than four dozen Armenian prisoners who were captured after a bloody war for control of the disputed enclave known as Nagorno-Karabakh.

The prisoner issue is a bitter legacy of the battle last fall in which Azerbaijan’s forces, backed by Turkish-made drones, regained control of much of the mountainous region that is officially part of Azerbaijan but had been governed by its majority-Armenian population since a 1994 war for independence. Armenia says it lost more than 4,000 soldiers — a huge number for the small, embattled nation.…  Seguir leyendo »

Opposition demonstrators rally to pressure Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign in Yerevan, Armenia, on March 1. (Hrant Khachatryan/PAN/AP)

On Feb. 25, Armenia’s top military leadership called on Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to resign. This threat came in the form of a letter signed by “several dozen” army officers, who cited “attacks” on the armed forces by the government. On Monday, pro-Pashinyan supporters demonstrated in one part of the capital while protesters demanding his resignation rallied at a separate site.

It isn’t clear what the next moves might be — and whether the army will attempt to forcibly remove the civilian government. But military coups are extremely rare in the countries that once made up the Soviet Union, so analysts are keeping a close eye on the situation and the potential effect on regional politics.…  Seguir leyendo »

Georgia's leader of the United National Movement, Nika Melia, shouts from a window of his party's headquarters as the police raid the building in Tbilisi, Georgia, on Feb. 23. (Vano Shlamov/AFP/Getty Images)

One hundred years ago today, in February 1921, the Red Army marched into Tbilisi, the capital of the Republic of Georgia. On that day, Georgia found itself under Soviet occupation and lost its freedom and place in the West. On Tuesday, Georgia once again stumbled on its Western path, as police forces stormed the main opposition party’s headquarters and arrested its leader, Nika Melia.

The United States and its European allies have been warning the current Georgian government to stick by the rules of democratic fair play. Now any such sense of restraint on the part of the authorities has fallen away.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ahead of the International Criminal Court, the European Court of Human Rights condemned Russia on 21 January for its responsibility for serious human rights violations committed against the Georgian civilian population in 2008. © Vano Shlamov / AFP

Let’s starts with the conclusions. On 21 January 2021, The European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) established Russia’s “effective control” over the Georgian occupied regions and found Russia responsible for five major categories of violations: “killing of civilians, torching and looting of houses in Georgian villages and expulsion of Georgian civilian population”; “denial of Georgian nationals to return to their homes in Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and Abkhazia”; “unlawful and inhuman detention and treatment of Georgian civilians”; “torture of Georgian prisoners of war”; “failure to carry out an adequate and effective investigation into the killings committed during the active phase of hostilities and in the period of occupation.”…  Seguir leyendo »

A family drives a truck loaded with a small house along a highway as they leave their home village in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh on Nov. 18, before a cease-fire takes effect to halt weeks of fighting. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to cease fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh, a disputed territory in the South Caucasus. Over a six-week period, the worst fighting in decades left thousands dead.

A Moscow-facilitated cease-fire last month has brought Russian peacekeeping forces — and increased Russian influence. Azerbaijan took back territory Armenia had held since the 1990s, leaving Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan politically vulnerable after discontent with how he handled the war and the cease-fire.

Social media played a significant role in the way that Armenians and Azerbaijanis experienced this year’s brief war. Globally, people could follow military movements, drone footage, respond to statements by authorities and discuss the events.…  Seguir leyendo »

Dadivank Monastery is one of the hundreds of Armenian churches, monuments and carved memorial stones that will come under the control of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan according to a cease-fire agreement reached this month. Credit Sergei Grits/Associated Press

Since its origins in the ninth century, Dadivank Monastery has withstood Seljuk and Mongol invasions, Persian domination, Soviet rule and, this fall, a second brutal war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Now the majestic stone complex — which includes two frescoed churches, a bell tower and numerous medieval inscriptions — faces something that could be even worse: a dangerous peace.

Perched on a rugged slope west of Nagorno-Karabakh, Dadivank is one of the hundreds of Armenian churches, monuments and carved memorial stones in a disputed region that will come under the control of predominantly Muslim Azerbaijan according to a cease-fire agreement reached this month.…  Seguir leyendo »

Un hombre pasea por delante de un edificio bombardeado en Shushá.AP

Cuando hace cinco años tuvo lugar el centenario del genocidio armenio, intenté convencer a mis amigos turcos del absurdo que suponía mantener la posición negacionista. El argumento que yo siempre exhibía era que la denuncia rotunda de la matanza había sido pronunciada nada menos que por Mustafá Kemal en 1919, con una condena explícita del crimen cometido en 1915, causante de 800.000 muertes. ¿Por qué encerrarse en una negación, absolviendo al arquitecto de esa masacre, el ministro del Interior otomano Talaat Pachá, quien además había tenido la amabilidad de explicar su lógica de exterminio al embajador norteamericano? No tuve éxito. Mi interlocutor se levantó de la mesa para traerme una fotografía y añadir: “Mi abuelo fue colaborador de Talaat Pachá”.…  Seguir leyendo »

À l’issue de 44 jours de guerre sanglante dans le Haut-Karabakh (Artsakh, en arménien), les Russes ont été les instigateurs d’un accord obligeant les Arméniens à céder d’importantes étendues territoriales à l’Azerbaïdjan. Dès le 10 novembre, un cessez-le-feu est observé et environ les trois quarts d’Artsakh seront graduellement vidés de leurs habitants millénaires pour laisser la place aux Azéris. C’est une situation crève-cœur qui suscite la colère et l’indignation.

Depuis le 27 septembre, les Arméniens de la diaspora ont manifesté, participé à des collectes de fonds, pris d’assaut les médias sociaux, milité auprès de divers gouvernements pour la reconnaissance du droit à l’autodétermination du peuple d’Artsakh et la fin des hostilités dans le Haut-Karabakh.…  Seguir leyendo »