The Nagorno Karabakh conflict, entrenched for more than 30 years of wars, seems to have ended definitively after 24 hours of bombings on this enclave of the Caucasus. This latest surrender seems to be the final one for this separatist region whose population, mostly Armenian, had resisted being part of Azerbaijan.
A document published this past Thursday by the secessionist presidency of Nagorno Karabakh reported “the dissolution of all state institutions and their subordinate organizations as of January 1, 2024”, the consequence of which will be the disappearance of this self-proclaimed republic. Meanwhile, those who until yesterday were its inhabitants, escape from their homes towards Armenia, the place of origin of their ethnic group that has mobilized to welcome them. YesIt is believed that around 100,000 people have already been able to leave Nagorno-Karabakhof the 120,000 that inhabited the region until just a week ago.
The flow has intensified after the reopening of the Lachin corridor. From Yerevan insist on the idea that Azerbaijan plans to carry out a “ethnic cleansing”, predicting that in the coming days, “there will be no Armenians left” in the area. The Baku Government has completely rejected the accusations, ensuring that the “alarmist narrative” of the Armenian executive “undermines possible prospects for peace between Azerbaijan and Armenia.”
Last week’s victory has been as resounding for Azerbaijan as the defeat has been for Armenia, which after years of armed conflicts and thousands of deaths officially recognized Azerbaijani sovereignty over those historic territories in 2020when the last war that pitted these two countries against each other for 44 days ended.
While Azerbaijan displayed unprecedented military potential, using drones and F-16 fighter jets provided by Türkiye, Armenia was doing what it could after having entrusted its defense to a Russian army that did not measure up. The Yerevan Government had signed years before its accession to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a military alliance devised by Moscow whose objective was none other than the mutual defense of the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan. Finally, Russia’s role in that conflict was more diplomatic than military, negotiating the ceasefire that ended that war.
The agreement provided for deployment of some 2,000 Russian blue helmets in Nagorno-Karabakh to protect the Lachin corridor, the only road that connects it with Armenia. Despite this, Russian peacekeepers did not prevent Azerbaijani troops from establishing a military checkpoint along that corridor, preventing the importation of food into the enclave. Azerbaijan has denied causing a blockade, while Russia has denied accusations of inaction.
Last week, as residents of Nagorno-Karabakh prepared for a mass flight, His compatriots in Armenia mobilized in the streets, demonstrating in front of Russian representations in the country. They blamed the Kremlin for leaving them defenseless. The first official reactions from the Armenian Government came last Sunday. His Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan He criticized his country’s alliances in a televised speech, alluding to its long-standing relations with Moscow, more than imposed, inherited from the time when Armenia was part of the Soviet Union.
In the spotlight was the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), whose credibility had been called into question. Officially, Armenia has not requested to leave the alliance, but Pashinyan already mentioned last May the possibility of Armenia withdrawing from the CSTO, due to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. One of the arguments put forward is the lack of Russian weapons, due to the war with Ukraine., which is diverting all the material available in Russia to Donbas. In addition, Armenia, which in January refused to host the CSTO maneuvers, has carried out military exercises with the United States this month, to the dismay of Moscow.
From the Kremlin they have responded to journalists’ uncomfortable questions about the loss of Russian influence in the Caucasus stating that they continue to maintain excellent relations with Armenia and do not plan a change in their bilateral policy. Russian peacekeepers remain established in Nagorno Karabakh ensuring the stability of the area, although eThe Government of Yerevan has not hidden its discomfort at the permanence of these troops in the Caucasus. To this day, Russia continues to consider Armenia as its main partner in the area, after the 2008 war with Georgia, that broke ties with this country that have timidly begun to be re-established.
The other Caucasus state, Azerbaijan, maintains a lukewarm relationship with Russia and practically fraternal relations with Turkey, and there is no doubt that it will remain that way. Another fact that confirms the distance between Yerevan and Moscow has been the sending of humanitarian aid to Ukraine by Armenia, something that confirms without a written statement the support for the Kiev Government.
Its parliament is also on the verge of ratifying the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which means that Armenia would be obliged to arrest the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, if he decided to visit that country. A few weeks ago, the Yerevan Government presented an alternative to Moscow so that, despite ratifying the Rome Statute, President Vladimir Putin could not be arrested on Armenian territory. To date, Russia has not responded.