Cover Image: Azerbaijani Military Parade in Stepanakert, via the Associated Press.
Earlier this year, after roughly thirty years of fighting, Azerbaijan took control of the Nagorno-Karabakh region. What was once home to over a hundred thousand ethnic Armenians under a breakaway government has now begun the process of being reintegrated into Azerbaijan proper, with the vast majority of the population fleeing to Armenia itself. Many hoped that this might bring an end to the hostilities between the Armenian and Azerbaijani governments, but it is looking more and more likely that this is only the beginning.
At the beginning of October, United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that Azerbaijan may invade Armenia proper in order to open a corridor between the two sections of Azerbaijan. This section, the Zangezur Corridor, intersects Baku's access to the autonomous enclave of Nakhchivan, which borders Turkey. As such, Azerbaijan has wanted to influence, if not directly annex the region, as put directly by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev. However, this is not the only section of concern, as adjacent regions are also threatened by the Azeri government.
In a recent statement, the Azerbaijani government has claimed that Armenia has refused to hand over eight villages that Baku claims are occupied by Yerevan. Despite Armenia’s membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Russian Federation’s response to NATO, Azerbaijan is unfettered. This is in part because of Russia and Armenia’s relationship falling apart, largely because of Moscow’s lack of intervention in the previous two wars.
America has now spied an opportunity to take Russia’s place in the Caucasus’. The United States has recently backed Armenia against Azerbaijan, viewing the latter as authoritarian and the former as democratic. Additionally, in the same meeting where Blinken warned of further war with Baku, he noted that the United States is not going to renew a waiver that allows the United States to supply Azerbaijan with military supplies. Instead of Putin, now Biden (or his successor) may begin playing peacemaker in the region.
Azerbaijan is clearly gearing up for some sort of action against its neighbor, but whether that is further military action or instead political action remains to be seen. We can only wait with bated breath to see what comes next out of Russia’s former backyard.
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