Saturday 24th October 2020
Despite the diplomatic efforts of Moscow and, most recently, Washington, the fighting in the South Caucasus continues. The conflicting parties report attacks and their own successes – which the opposing side rejects. But the hope for peace is not yet gone.
The fighting over the Caucasus region Nagorno-Karabakh continues after the crisis summit in Washington. The Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense said there were fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding area. The largest city in the region, Stepanakert, was under fire from Azerbaijan, according to Nagorno-Karabakh authorities. The government in Baku rejected this. Azerbaijan’s military leadership reports that an Armenian Air Force plane was shot down. This in turn denied Yerevan.
On Friday, the foreign ministers of the warring parties had separate talks with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. US President Donald Trump then spoke of progress towards an end to the fighting, but did not comment on the details. Armenia described the talks as “very good”. Armenian Foreign Minister Sohrab Mnazakanjan said that there is still work to be done towards a ceasefire. The hope that the fighting will end soon is dampened by the fact that Russia has already brokered a ceasefire twice, but each time it did not last.
The Armenian authorities meanwhile announced that the number of soldiers killed rose by 36 to 963. Azerbaijan does not disclose any information about casualties in the armed forces because of the censorship provisions under the applicable martial law. Putin also said on Thursday at a televised panel of experts that around 5,000 people had died in the war just under a month after the fighting began.
Turkey would send soldiers
The heavy fighting over Nagorno-Karabakh has been ongoing since September 27th. In a war after the collapse of the Soviet Union around 30 years ago, Azerbaijan lost control of the mountainous area with around 145,000 inhabitants, in which predominantly Christian Armenians live. The leadership there is supported by the Armenian government in Yerevan. A fragile ceasefire has existed since 1994.
Russia has a defense pact with Armenia. Turkey, in turn, has declared that it will send soldiers and provide military support to Azerbaijan if its close ally so wishes. So far, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), chaired by France, Russia and the USA, has been mediating largely unsuccessfully in the decades-old conflict.