On Sunday March 5th, two Azerbaijani soldiers and three Armenians exchanged gunfire in Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh that resulted in the death of at least five people. Armenia and Azerbaijan have been in a border conflict since May of 2021, and this fighting for control of Azerbaijan’s Armenian-populated enclave of Karabakh has killed thousands. It is imperative that the conflict be contained before another war breaks out between these two neighboring states.
Following this clash, Azerbaijan’s defense ministry claimed that their troops suspected a convoy was carrying weapons from the region’s main town to outlying areas on an unauthorized road and was therefore stopped. They also reported that two servicemen were killed, while Armenia’s foreign ministry said three officials from the Karabakh interior ministry were killed. However, Armenia’s foreign ministry dismissed Azerbaijan’s claims about weapons being transported as “absurd” and that Azerbaijan’s account of what happened was a “provocation planned in advance and instructed by the top leadership.” In addition, pro-Armenian separatist authorities blamed the exchange on “a sabotage group of the Azerbaijani armed forces,” that “opened fire on the car of a Passport and Visa Department of the police.”
Furthermore, Azerbaijan’s defence ministry said the clash “once again shows that Azerbaijan needs to create an appropriate checkpoint on the Lachin-Khamenei road,” while Armenia’s foreign ministry said “sending an international fact-finding team to the Lachin corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh is becoming a vital necessity.”
It is clear that if this escalation continues, these two countries will be on the brink of another war. The past wars fought between Azerbaijan and Armenia have claimed too many lives while creating more instability in the region. This side of the world is already struggling with the conflict between Russia and Ukraine and cannot risk a third war between Azerbaijan and Armenia.
Since becoming independent from the Soviet Union, Armenia and Azerbaijan have fought two wars over Nagorno-Karabakh. The most recent war took place in 2020, with Azerbaijan controlling most of the territory and moving into Armenia. According to the International Crisis Group, the war in 2020 ended in a ceasefire was put in place forcing Armenia to give up territories it has had for years. The International Crisis Group also stated that following this war, Azerbaijan has gained more confidence and military strength, while Armenia has struggled to rebuild as its security partner, Russia, has been occupied with the war in Ukraine. Despite this, the European Union announced in January that they will be launching a new monitoring mission in Armenia.
Another war between these two countries would be detrimental for both sides. It is imperative this new monitoring mission be a success, as it seems to be the best chance at stopping another war from breaking out. The international community needs to focus on de-escalating this conflict and this new mission before more lives are lost.
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