Situation Update: Lachin Border Point and the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
The Lachin Border Point: A Calm Amidst Turmoil
The Lachin border point, a critical route used by the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh to travel to Armenia has been reported to be calm, despite minor traffic congestion. Some individuals are opting to cross the border on foot. Despite the traffic situation, the overall atmosphere at the Lachin border point remains peaceful and orderly.
Background: The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is considered the longest-running in post-Soviet Eurasia. It began in 1988 when ethnic Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh demanded that the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Oblast (NKAO) be transferred from Soviet Azerbaijan to Armenia. The collapse of the Soviet Union saw tensions escalate into an outright war.
By the time fighting ceased in 1994, Nagorno-Karabakh and seven adjacent districts were under the control of Armenian forces. More than a million people had been forced from their homes, with Azerbaijanis fleeing Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the adjacent territories, while Armenians left homes in Azerbaijan.
Intermittent deadly incidents occurred between 1994 and 2020, demonstrating the ever-present risk that war would reignite. This culminated in September 2020 when full-fledged war resumed, resulting in weeks of bloody armed conflict that ended in November with a ceasefire brokered by the Russian Federation.
Post-2020 War: A Tense Peace
Following the 2020 war, the front line has become longer and more volatile. Military positions are only separated by 30-100 meters, compared to hundreds of meters prior to the war. The shifting of the front line has placed military positions up against civilian settlements.
The Russian peacekeeping mission’s outposts are deployed along the main roads in Armenian populated areas of the conflict zone and the main traffic artery between Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, including inside the Lachin corridor.
Despite the Russian-brokered peace deal, the situation remains tense. Regularly updated maps and graphs depict the evolving situation since the end of hostilities in November 2020, with a timeline tracking critical political events, and historical graphics that track incidents and casualties.
Humanitarian Crisis Looms in Nagorno-Karabakh
Since December 12, a blockade backed by the government of Azerbaijan has cut off an estimated 120,000 Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh from the rest of the world. The Lachin Corridor, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, has been blocked, leading to a humanitarian crisis, with only a trickle of supplies allowed in. The United States and its partners have warned of a worsening situation, with calls for the reopening of the Lachin Corridor.
Power Dynamics and the Future of Nagorno-Karabakh
The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the blockade of the Lachin Corridor is part of a larger contest with significant interests at stake. For three decades, Russia’s influence over former Soviet republics allowed it to maintain peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, Russia’s receding influence has opened the door for the U.S and its European partners to play a significant role in the region.
The future of Nagorno-Karabakh remains uncertain. The government of Azerbaijan has expressed its intent to bring Nagorno-Karabakh under federal control, treating Armenian residents as Azerbaijani citizens with no special cultural or administrative status and rights. On the other hand, Armenians, due to their history of violence in Azerbaijan, are pushing for internationally led negotiations that include special status and civilian protection.
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