Weekly Geopolitical Report – The Disputed Territory of Nagorno-Karabakh: Part I (November 23, 2020)

by Thomas Wash | PDF

(Due to the Thanksgiving holiday, our next report will be published on December 7, 2020.)

On November 9, Armenia agreed to give up some of its territory to Azerbaijan in a deal brokered by Russia. After six weeks of fighting and three failed ceasefires, Azerbaijan and Armenia have ended their war over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh. In accordance with the agreement, Armenia vacated the disputed territory on November 15. Following the departure, Russia deployed 2,000 peacekeepers to the region to ensure a smooth transition. Turkey, which provided Azerbaijan with military support, was also able to stake its claim in the region. Unlike the previous three ceasefire attempts, this one appears to be holding.

The truce freezes conflict between the two rival nations, while bolstering Russia and Turkey’s influence in the region. The absence of the West’s involvement in negotiations suggests that its role as power broker could be shrinking in favor of regional competitors. Over the last several years, Turkey and Russia have expanded their reach into Eastern Europe, the Middle East, and Northern Africa, thus filling a leadership void left by the West. If this trend continues, we believe it could raise the likelihood of increased geopolitical tensions as regional powers compete for influence.

In Part I of this report, we will focus on the history of the tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan. We will begin with a summary of the geography of the Nagorno-Karabakh territory, followed by a discussion of Russia’s invasion of the Caucasus during Russia’s Imperial era and its downfall. We will then examine the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with a more detailed summary of the recent conflict between the two regions.

Read the full report