Who won the Battle of Karabakh?
Who won the war over Karabakh?
WHY IN NEWS:
Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to end fighting, in a deal brokered by Russia
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2 : IR
WHAT LED TO THE WAR?
- In 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed, the newly independent Armenia and Azerbaijan went to war over Nagorno-Karabakh.
- It had been an autonomous region within Azerbaijan during the Soviet years.
- Armenians have made historical claims over the enclave, which is largely populated by ethnic Armenians.
- Seven surrounding districts from Azeri forces, which amounted to some 13% of Azerbaijan’s territory.
- In September, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev launched the offensive vowing to take back Nagorno-Karabakh and other Armenian-occupied districts.
- In six weeks, Azeri forces, backed by Turkey-supplied armed drones and other equipment, cut through Armenian defences and retook territories.
- This including some 40% of Nagorno-Karabakh itself.
SOURCES : THE HINDU | Who won the Battle of Karabakh?
ROOTS OF THE CONFLICT
- The largely mountainous and forested Nagorno-Karabakh, home for some 150,000 people, is at the centre of the conflict.
- Nagorno-Karabakh is located within Azerbaijan but is populated, mostly, by those of Armenian ethnicity.
- The conflict can be traced back to the pre-Soviet era when the region was at the meeting point of Ottoman, Russian and the Persian empires.
- In the 1980s, when the Soviet power was receding, separatist currents picked up in Nagorno-Karabakh.
- In 1988, the national assembly voted to dissolve the region’s autonomous status and join Armenia.
- When Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the clashes led to an open war in which tens of thousands were killed.
- The war lasted till 1994 when both sides reached a ceasefire.
- By that time, Armenia had taken control of Nagorno-Karabakh and handed it to Armenian rebels.
- The region is still treated as a part of Azerbaijan by the international community, and Baku wants to take it back.
- Russia, which has a security agreement with Armenia, remained neutral in the early days of the war when Turkey threw its weight behind Azerbaijan.
- Russia brokered a ceasefire two weeks into the conflict, but it didn’t hold.
- President Vladimir Putin said the security guarantee is for Armenia, not for the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh.
- But Russia was apparently concerned about the rapid change in the status quo and the more assertive security role Turkey was playing in its backyard.
- By the third week of October, Russia established small military outposts along the Armenian border.
- In the same week, Russia conducted a massive air strike in Syria’s Idlib against Turkish-backed militants, killing dozens of them, which is seen as Moscow’s warning to Turkey.
- Under pressure from a decisive Moscow, both sides agreed to cease the operations.
TERMS OF THE TRUCE
- The core of the enclave with ethnic Armenians and Stepanakert as its capital would remain outside the control of Azerbaijan.
- Baku will build a road linking the newly captured territories to Nakhchivan, an autonomous republic of Azerbaijan.
- As the broker of the truce, Russia would send some 2,000 peacekeepers to the region.
- In sum, Azerbaijan gained territories, but not the whole of Nagorno-Karabakh.
- Armenia lost territories it controlled since the 1990s but avoided a total defeat as much of Nagorno-Karabakh would remain independent of Azeri control.
- And Russia gained a bigger foothold in the region with its troops being deployed within Azerbaijan.
CHALLENGE FROM TURKEY
- That Russia could enforce the ceasefire and keep Turkey and western countries out of the final talks shows that Moscow remains a dominant power in the South Caucasus.
- Moscow had wanted to send peacekeepers to the region, but both Armenia and Azerbaijan were not open to the idea earlier.
- Turkey backed Azerbaijan throughout the war against Moscow’s wishes and made sure that the Azeri side prevailed.
- On Wednesday, the Turkish Parliament approved sending troops to the region to join an observation post despite the ceasefire mandating only Russians to deploy peacekeepers.
- Russia enjoys good ties with both Azerbaijan and Armenia and supplies weapons to both.
- But Armenia is more dependent on Russia than the energy-rich, ambitious Azerbaijan.
SOURCES: THE HINDU | Who won the Battle of Karabakh?