Nagorno-Karabakh: Examining the Recent Conflict in the South Caucasus

Nagorno-Karabakh: Examining the Recent Conflict in the South Caucasus

The recent Nagorno-Karabakh conflict pitted Armenia and Azerbaijan against each other in a protracted battle over disputed territories, reflecting the long-standing hostilities between these two South Caucasus nations.

Historical Background

The Nagorno-Karabakh region, predominantly inhabited by ethnic Armenians, was placed within the boundaries of Soviet Azerbaijan by the Soviet Union. This sparked tensions as both nations claimed ownership. The dispute escalated into a full-blown war after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, a conflict that ended with a ceasefire leaving Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territories under Armenian control.

Underlying Factors of the Recent Conflict

The recent flare-up in the region can be attributed to several factors. First, is the sense of historical injustice. For Azerbaijan, the territory loss following the Soviet Union's dissolution was never accepted. Simultaneously, Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh have long desired to join Armenia.

Second, Azerbaijan's significant oil revenues have financed a rapid military modernization program that emboldened them to reclaim the territories militarily. This, coupled with Turkey's increasing support for Baku, resulted in a significant shift in the military balance of power.

The Impact of the Conflict

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict led to enormous human suffering and economic damage. Besides the significant loss of life, thousands were displaced, creating a refugee crisis and worsening humanitarian conditions. Moreover, the ongoing conflict hampers opportunities for regional cooperation, leaving the South Caucasus one of the least integrated regions globally.

The Role of External Powers

The conflict has sparked international concern, given the region's strategic location and energy significance. Russia, traditionally having close ties with Armenia, provided limited support during the conflict, while Turkey openly backed Azerbaijan. The involvement of these regional powers further complicates the conflict and its potential resolution.

Possible Road to Peace

Resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains complex. A more comprehensive settlement seems unlikely without addressing the core issues, including the status of Nagorno-Karabakh and the return of displaced persons. The role of international mediation, particularly the Minsk Group co-chaired by the United States, Russia, and France, remains crucial to fostering dialogue and negotiation and avoiding further military escalation.


The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict serves as a stark reminder of how historical grievances and geopolitical interests can reignite violence if left unresolved. Going forward, the focus must be on building trust, fostering dialogue, and finding a lasting peaceful settlement to this longstanding conflict.