Heightened Tensions At The Lachin Border: A Comprehensive Look At The Armenia-Azerbaijan Conflict
The Lachin Border Congestion: A Sign of Escalating Conflict
A surge in vehicles at the Lachin border crossing point between Armenia and Azerbaijan paints a grim picture of the escalating tensions in the region. The long lines of vehicles waiting to cross serve as a stark reminder of the ongoing border conflict between the two nations, a conflict that has seen countless escalations over the past years.
A Historical Perspective: The Armenia-Azerbaijan Border Conflict
The Armenia-Azerbaijan border conflict has been ongoing since May 2021, when Azerbaijani soldiers crossed several kilometers into Armenia’s territory. Despite calls from global powers such as the United States, France, and the European Parliament for the withdrawal of Azerbaijani troops from internationally recognized Armenian territory, no substantial progress has been made.
Since the end of the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War, Azerbaijan has made multiple incursions into Armenian territory, regularly violating the November ceasefire agreement and instigating cross-border fights. This pattern of incursions and ceasefire violations often escalates when Azerbaijan’s government is dissatisfied with the pace of negotiations with Armenia.
Crisis Escalations and Their Implications
The crisis reached a new high in July 2021 with clashes at the Armenia-Nakhchivan border and again in November 2021 in the Gegharkunik-Kalbajar area. In August 2021, Azerbaijani forces blockaded southern Armenia by closing the main north-south highway, disrupting all international transit with Iran and forcing Armenia to develop alternative routes. The largest escalation occurred in September 2022 with Azerbaijan launching the largest attack on the Republic of Armenia in the history of the conflict. Both sides reported casualties.
These escalations have resulted in the militarization of Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan, disrupting the livelihoods of residents in border communities. Residents have been targeted and can no longer access farmlands, schools, water resources, relatives, or religious sites. Fearing for their safety, many Armenian villagers have opted to move away permanently.
International Reactions and Interventions
Armenia has unsuccessfully requested that the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and Russia independently intervene due to Azerbaijan’s military incursions. The CSTO and Russia declined to assist on both occasions. Officials from the European Union and Russia have explicitly condemned Azerbaijan’s military operations, considering them to be violations of the ceasefire agreement. In order to strengthen the border against Azerbaijan’s military incursions, Armenia allocated additional defense areas to the border guards of the Russian Federal Security Service.
Despite objections from Azerbaijan and Russia, the EU has sent a civilian monitoring mission to Armenia to contribute to stability along the border and deter offensives by Azerbaijan.
Future Implications: The Road Ahead
The president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, has made numerous threats to Armenia, stating that Armenia must accept their conditions if they wish to live comfortably. Since Azerbaijan’s offensives, Armenia’s borders with Azerbaijan have become militarized, disrupting the livelihoods of residents in border communities.
Without successful mediation efforts, ceasefire violations and renewed tensions threaten to reignite a full-scale conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Such a conflict would destabilize the South Caucasus region, potentially disrupting oil and gas exports from Azerbaijan, which produces about eight hundred thousand barrels of oil per day, to Central Asia and Europe.
As the situation at the Lachin border crossing point suggests, the tension between Armenia and Azerbaijan is far from over, and the world watches on, hoping for a peaceful resolution to this long-standing conflict.
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