• Sullivan Valdez

A brief overview of the nagorno-karabakh war


The USSR has fallen. Old tensions flare as skirmishes become more and more intense. It is 1988 in Nagorno Karabakh, the majority Armenian ethnic population has just passed its referendum to join Armenia. The ethnic Azeri minority has boycotted the election and is backed by the Azeri government. At last, a war breaks out between Armenian freedom fighters, backed by the Armenian government, and Azerbaijan, backed by the USSR. The bottled-up hatred and anger felt towards each other are released all at once. By the end of the 6-year conflict, thousands were killed on both sides, and many more were left wounded.

Now it’s 2016, tensions once again flare, and conflict is on the horizon. Previous border skirmishes had been sporadic and infrequent. Fighting had become more frequent and had increased the number of casualties. This trend continued until 2017, where it looked as though more major conflicts were going to arise.


Finally, 2020 rears its head. Fighting breaks out yet again. Within days of war being declared, both countries declared martial law. The fighting was just as bad as in 1988 when the war initially began. Azerbaijan supported by Turkey and Iran invaded Nagorno-Karabakh, this time, however, the results were different. Drones were deployed, missiles were sent, and heavy artillery was fired. Cluster munitions, weapons that fragment upon detonation was also reportedly used, although not unilaterally. Azerbaijan and Armenia have both been accused of using cluster munitions against the others’ civilians. Drones were also not just an Azerbaijani tactic, although the drones bought from Israel did give them a leg-up.

I feel I would be disingenuous if I did not mention the fact that what both countries have done is illegal. Targeting civilians and using cluster munitions is in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, which both countries have signed.


After 44 days of the official war, Azerbaijan declared victory over Armenia. All of Nagorno-Karabakh, some surrounding territories, and a corridor leading to the Nakhchivan exclave were all ceded to Azerbaijan as part of the Russian-brokered peace talks. Over 350,000 native and ethnic Armenians have been displaced now due to this conflict.



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