In 2020, a war broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan when the Azeris launched a bid to exert total control over the region, which is situated at the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. To help Americans understand this conflict, let's draw some comparisons to American history and geography.
Imagine if the American Civil War had never been fully resolved, leaving long-standing tensions between the North and the South. Now picture a smaller region, similar in size to the state of Maryland, located on the border between these two hypothetical hostile regions. This smaller region, which we can call 'Borderland,' has a majority population from the North but is internationally recognized as part of the South.
The situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan is somewhat similar. The two countries have a long history of tensions, largely due to a region called Nagorno-Karabakh (akin to our hypothetical 'Borderland'). Nagorno-Karabakh has a majority Armenian population but is internationally recognized as part of Azerbaijan.
In 1988, as the Soviet Union was weakening, tensions between Armenia and Azerbaijan escalated, leading to a full-scale war in the early 1990s. A ceasefire was declared in 1994, but the conflict was not resolved, leaving Nagorno-Karabakh as a self-declared independent republic, backed by Armenia but not recognized by the international community.
Fast forward to 2020, when fighting erupted again between Armenia and Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh. The conflict lasted six weeks, with both sides suffering heavy casualties and thousands of people being displaced. A ceasefire was brokered on November 10, 2020, by Russia, which involved the deployment of Russian peacekeepers to the region.
This agreement resulted in territorial gains for Azerbaijan and the return of some territories around Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijani control. However, the core issues that led to the conflict have not been completely addressed, and frequent flareups have been reported between the two countries along their border, with Azerbaijan now blockading the one road by which the residents of Artsakh are able to trade and travel between their homes and their mother country. Experts believe that without significant international pressure on Azerbaijan, another war is all but inevitable.