Territory Tug-of-War

In September, fighting broke out in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh between Armenia and Azerbaijan, two countries located sharing borders in Eurasia, the region between Europe and Asia. 

This latest violence is the most serious in years, involving missiles, tanks, and heavy shooting. At least two-hundred people have died and more than a hundred have been wounded.

Armenia claims that Azerbaijan launched a missile and aerial attack. According to Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, the aggression “constitutes large-scale provocation against regional peace & security.” However, Azerbaijan’s president Ilham Aliyev stated that “the first fire, including artillery fire, was opened by Armenia.” Both countries have now declared martial law and have mobilized their military and servicemen.

After Azerbaijan’s second-largest city, Ganja, was attacked, Azerbaijan vowed to take back the region this time.

Armenia has a Christian majority while Azerbaijan is mainly Muslim and contains the oil-rich land that is part of the southern Caucasus. Today, Nagorno-Karabakh is an area within Azerbaijan’s borders but mostly populated by ethnic Armenians. This is how it began… 

In the 1920s, both countries were Soviet republics and the Soviet Union gave Nagorno-Karabakh to Azerbaijan. However, the Armenians living there wanted to transfer authority to Armenia. After the Soviet Union collapsed, the parliament of Nagorno-Karabakh voted to be part of Armenia, which led to a civil war with bloody massacres on both sides. Armenian gained control of Nagorno-Karabakh, but the ceasefire arranged by Russia in 1994 allowed the region to remain part of Azerbaijan. Since then, separatist Armenians, backed by the Armenian government, control Nagorno-Karabakh even though it’s officially considered a part of Azerbaijan.

France, Russia, and the US formed the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Minsk Group in 1992 to mediate peace talks. There is no formal peace treaty so the conflict erupted again in 2016 and now in 2020.

Turkey remains a strong and supporting ally of Azerbaijan as they both share similar cultures, but Turkey has no diplomatic ties with Armenia. Meanwhile, Russia has a military base in Armenia but also maintains good relations with Azerbaijan.

Now, Armenia has called for US assistance, and Azerbaijan called on Turkey.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan tweeted, “The Turkish Nation stands by its Azerbaijani brothers with all its means, as always.” While Turkey denies that it has involvement in the conflict, BBC reported that Turkish military drones have been used, and Armenian officials said Turkish military advisors were present.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu criticized international efforts for achieving nothing in almost thirty years. He explains, “We look at the calls coming from around the world, and its ‘immediate ceasefire.’ What then? There was a ceasefire until now, but what happened?”

In addition, Iran’s president, Hassan Rouhani, echoed Turkey’s position, stating, “Iran’s security is Azerbaijan’s security. We will not allow this conflict to create insecurity in neighboring countries.”

Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said that he was sure Russia would come to its defense, if necessary, in its conflict with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh due to the “treaty framework” between the two countries.

Furthermore, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad confirms that Syrian armed groups were being deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh.


The International Committee of the Red Cross raised concerns about the unnecessary civilian deaths. The Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe’s Minsk Group condemned the violence. Russia and France both urged a ceasefire. Russia especially fears that Nagorno can turn into a breeding ground for terrorism. Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s SVR Foreign Intelligence Service, explains,“We are talking about hundreds and already even thousands of radicals hoping to earn money in a new Karabakh war,” which gives militants an opportunity to enter states like Russia.

President Trump plans to call the Prime Minister of Armenia who suspects Turkey’s use of the U.S-supplied F-16 aircrafts in the conflict against Armenia.

The European countries also called for negotiations. Pope Francis also asked for a solution “not through the use of force and arms, but through the means of dialogue and negotiation.” Hopefully, these international calls for peace will be heard and followed to prevent further loss of life.




Works Cited:

“Armenia-Azerbaijan: What’s behind the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict?” BBC News, BBC, 28 Sept. 2020,

Hovhannisyan, Nvard, and Nailia Bagirova. “Armenia-Azerbaijan Clashes Kill at Least 16, Undermine Regional Stability.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 27 Sept. 2020,

Hovhannisyan, Nvard, and Nailia Bagirova. “Russia Warns That Nagorno-Karabakh Could Become Islamist Militant Stronghold.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 6 Oct. 2020,

“Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: Civilians Bearing Brunt of Surge in Violence.” International Committee of the Red Cross, 16 Oct. 2020,

Safdar, Anealla, et al. “Armenia Ready for ‘Mutual Concessions’ with Azerbaijan: Live News.” Asia | Al Jazeera, Al Jazeera, 6 Oct. 2020,

Schwartz, Matthew S. “Destruction Mounts As Azerbaijan And Armenia Increase Hostilities.” NPR, NPR, 4 Oct. 2020,

Treisman, Rachel. “Violence Erupts Between Armenia And Azerbaijan Over Long-Disputed Region.” NPR, NPR, 27 Sept. 2020,

“Why Armenia and Azerbaijan Are Fighting, and Why It Could Get Uglier.” CBS News, CBS Interactive,


Photo Credits:


  1. May God bring peace to this war-torn region. Great article Elva!

  2. Wow I learned a lot from this!

  3. Good job on this article, Elva! Just as a quick update, Azerbaijan has taken nearly all of Nagorno-Karabakh now. Unfortunately, they have murdered and tortured the ethnic Armenians who did not flee in time. Reports have come in saying that they have killed everyone from grandparents to little children (in their own homes) without regard for age or sex. The Armenians fear that the Azeris will not stop with just taking the Karabakh but will also try to wipe Armenia off the face of the earth in a second genocide. Please pray that God will bring peace to this land and will somehow use the horrible things that are happening for good.

    • Thank you for the update! It’s hopeful that a peace agreement is settled but looks like both sides are not exactly satisfied which may worsen the conflict down the road. Yes, we will pray for peace.