Azerbaijan, Armenia peace process in peril
Russia announced on Sept. 13 that it had negotiated a ceasefire following fighting that killed at least 100 Azerbaijani and Armenian troops.
The Azerbaijani defense ministry said Armenian forces “violated the ceasefire... and shelled Azerbaijani positions near Kelbajar and Lachin with mortars and artillery.” Sept. 13’s escalation came as Yerevan’s closest ally Moscow is distracted by its six-month-old war against Ukraine. The Ukraine conflict changed the balance of force in the region as Russia, which deployed thousands of peacekeepers in the region after the 2020 war, is increasingly isolated.
The European Union has since led the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process, which involves peace talks, border delimitation and the reopening of transport links.
Analyst Gela Vasadze of the Georgian Strategic Analysis Centre said the latest escalation “has undone EU-led efforts to bring Baku and Yerevan closer to a peace deal.”
“Brussels agreements are now practically nullified,” he said, adding that the clashes “have further radicalized public opinion in both countries.”
During EU-mediated talks in Brussels in May and April, Azerbaijan’s İlham Aliyev and Armenia’s Nikol Pashinyan agreed to “advance discussions” on a future peace treaty.
On Sept. 13, Armenia appealed to world leaders for help over the latest fighting. The European Union, United States, France, Russia, Iran, and Türkiye all expressed concern over the escalation and called for an end to fighting.
The neighbours fought two wars, in the 1990s and in 2020, over the Armenia-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh region.
The six weeks of fighting in autumn 2020 claimed the lives of more than 6,500 troops from both sides and ended with a Russian-brokered ceasefire.
Under the deal, Armenia ceded swathes of territory it had controlled for decades and Moscow deployed about 2,000 Russian peacekeepers to oversee the fragile truce, which analyst Vasadze called “neither war, nor peace.”