Azerbaijan Presses Its Advantage Against an Isolated Armenia

Azerbaijan Presses Its Advantage Against an Isolated Armenia
Armenian Prime minister Nikol Pashinyan delivers a speech at the National Assembly in Yerevan, Armenia, Sept. 13, 2022 (PAN photo by Tigran Mehrabyan via AP).

Early on Sept. 13, a renewed round of fighting broke out between Armenia and Azerbaijan, apparently initiated by the Azerbaijani side. The wide-ranging attack, in which Azerbaijan used artillery to strike several cities deep in Armenian territory, marks an alarming escalation of tensions between the historical enemies, which have remained on a low boil since the end of the war between them in November 2020.

Intermittent skirmishes have broken out since that conflict ended in Armenia’s defeat and the handover of most of the territories it had occupied since the first war between the two post-Soviet states in the 1990s. Yet the present escalation is unprecedented, as the Azerbaijani attacks have been directed not at Nagorno-Karabakh—the breakaway Azerbaijani province at the heart of their dispute—or the surrounding territories that until 2020 were occupied by Yerevan, but at Armenian territory itself.

The Armenian government has confirmed the deaths of more than 100 Armenian servicemen. Yerevan has even officially approached the Collective Security Treaty Organization—the Russian-led military alliance comprising Armenia and Russia, as well as Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan—for help. After initially being caught flatfooted, Moscow intervened to broker a temporary cease-fire. In parallel, Western powers conducted a flurry of diplomatic outreach to the two sides, with the U.S. special representative for the Caucasus as well as the European Union envoy for the region making urgent visits to Baku and Yerevan. U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi also flew to Yerevan to register her support.

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