Watch | All about the Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes

A video explainer on the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh and why Armenia and Azerbaijan are fighting

Published - October 26, 2020 12:00 pm IST

Fresh clashes erupted on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border recently, threatening to push the countries back to war 26 years after a ceasefire was reached. Dozens have been killed so far.

The conflict between the two former Soviet republics has wider geopolitical implications as Turkey, which shares a border with Armenia, is backing Azerbaijan, while Russia, which has good ties with both countries, has called for a ceasefire.

Nagorno-Karabakh, home for around 1,50,000 people, is at the centre of the conflict. It is located within Azerbaijan but is mostly populated by those of Armenian ethnicity.

Also read: U.S. announces new Nagorno-Karabakh ceasefire as fighting persists

The conflict can be traced back to the pre-Soviet era. Once Azerbaijan and Armenia became Soviet Republics in 1921, Moscow gave Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan but offered autonomy to the contested region.

In 1988, the national assembly voted to dissolve the region’s autonomous status and join Armenia. But Baku, the Capital of Azerbaijan, suppressed such calls, which led to a military conflict.

When Armenia and Azerbaijan became independent countries after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the clashes led to an open war in which tens of thousands of people were killed.

The war lasted till 1994 when both sides reached a ceasefire but they are yet to sign a peace treaty and the border is not clearly demarcated.

By that time, Armenia had taken control of Nagorno-Karabakh and handed it to Armenian rebels. The rebels have declared independence, but have not won recognition from any country.

The region is still treated as a part of Azerbaijan by the international community, and Baku wants to take it back.

Read more here: The Hindu Explains | What’s behind the Armenia-Azerbaijan clashes?

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