Nagorno-Karabakh Fighting Threatens to Drag in Turkey & Russia

Azerbaijani Tank

Fighting has escalated between Armenia and Azerbeijan as a US brokered ceasefire agreed on Sunday broke down.

Localised battles were taking place along several parts of the front line on Tuesday morning, the Nagorno-Karabakh defence ministry said in a statement. Azerbaijan's defence ministry described fighting concentrated in three frontline areas and that its positions have been attacked with small arms, mortars, tanks and artillery.

Armenia acknowledged overnight that Nagorno-Karabakh forces had withdrawn from a strategic town between the enclave and the Iranian border, an apparent military gain for Azerbaijan as a new U.S.-brokered ceasefire failed to end the fighting which has so far caused over 1,000 fatalities.

The decades old argument between the two former Soviet republics, over the disputed territory of Nagorno-Karabakh exploded into armed conflict on 27th September 2020. Nagorno-Karabakh is inside Azerbaijani territory, but is run by ethnic Armenians.

Not only is the conflict is of huge concern to the local population, but it is also a significant worry for the international community. Presently it is limited to the immediate area of Nagorno-Karabakh, but has the potential to escalate into all-out war between the two countries.

Armenia is supported by the Russian Federation, with which it has a defence pact, and Azerbaijan is already receiving practical, political and diplomatic support from Turkey. But, world powers are keen to avoid an escalation into a general war that draws in Turkey and Russia. That said, the collapse of the recent US and two Russian brokered ceasefires bodes ill for the prospects of a quick end to fighting.

President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan, which is already receiving support from Turkey, has ramped up the rhetoric by stating, rather hypocritically, that it is "very hazardous" for Armenia to want Russian military support in the conflict and third parties should not get involved militarily.

Differences over the conflict have further strained relations between Ankara and its NATO allies, with US Secretary Pompeo accusing Turkey of fuelling the conflict by arming the Azeri side, an accusation that Ankara denies.

President Putin of Russia has said that he supports the role of Washington in helping to negotiate a resolution.

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